Fed chair nominee as one of the ‘foremost’ US economists

Janet Yellen named to become first woman chair of America’s central bank

President Obama described Janet Yellen as one of the country's "foremost economists and policymakers" as he named her as his nominee to become the next chair of the Federal Reserve, the first female head of the US central bank.

Ms Yellen, 67, who has been vice chair of the Fed since 2010, would replace Ben Bernanke who has held the post for eight years if her nomination confirmed by the Democrat-led Senate,

"She's a proven leader and she's tough, and not just because she's from Brooklyn," said the president at a ceremony in the White House, standing alongside Mr Bernanke.

Mr Obama said that the academic economist is committed to the Fed's dual objectives of maintaining sound monetary policy to curb inflation and boosting job creation, adding that American workers and families would have "a champion in Janet Yellen."


He described her work at the Fed as “exemplary” saying that she was a driving force behind policies to help boost the US economy and “sounded the alarm early” about the housing bubble, excesses in the financial sector and risks of a recession in 2007.

The president urged the US Senate to confirm her "without delay," making her the first Democrat to be nominated to the role since President Jimmy Carter appointed Paul Volcker in 1979

Speaking after the president, Ms Yellen said that “more needs to be done” to help the recovering economy, particularly for those “hardest hit by the Great Recession.”

“We can and must safeguard the financial system,” she said.

Her comments suggest that the Fed will, under her stewardship, continue the Fed’s aggressive monetary policy of keeping interest rates low and bond purchases to boost economic growth.

Ms Yellen is reported to be Mr Obama's second choice for the Fed job after his preferred candidate, his former economic adviser Larry Summers, withdrew his name from consideration last month.

She will start a four-year term when Mr Bernanke’s stint ends on January 31st and is expected to continue many of the policies followed by her predecessor given her senior role at the Fed.

Praising Mr Bernanke for navigating the US through the worst financial crisis since the 1929 crash, Mr Obama said that he had been “a voice of wisdom and a steady hand” and that he had helped avert “another depression” in 2008, displaying “tremendous courage and creativity.”

There was relief in financial markets to Ms Yellen’s appointment as she is expected lead the Fed in a careful winding down of the economic stimulus she helped design as vice chair.

The new Fed chair faces a looming economic crisis as the political standoff in Washington has closed the US government and threatened a default if Congress does not raise the $16.7 trillion borrowing limit by the October 17th deadline when the government runs out of cash.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent