Janet Yellen takes over Fed; Bernanke joins Brookings

February 04, 2014 - 1:20:35 am

Janet Yellen is sworn as Federal Reserve Chairman at the Federal Reserve Building in Washington yesterday.

WASHINGTON: Respected economist Janet Yellen was sworn in yesterday as the first woman chair of the Federal Reserve, taking on the burden of winding down the Fed’s stimulus without spurring more turmoil.

Yellen inherits the mantle of the world’s most powerful central banker from Ben Bernanke, who guided the US and the global financial system through its deepest crisis since the 1930s during his eight years in the job.

Nominated to the job last October by US President Barack Obama, she will serve a four-year term concurrent to her ongoing 14 year term on the Fed’s board of governors.

The respected economist has worked closely with Bernanke during her three-plus years as Fed vice-chair, and is not expected to depart from his policies aimed at helping lower still-high unemployment levels as long as inflation remains tamed.

Yellen, 67, has served in a number of positions in the Fed, including head of its San Francisco branch, and also has held academic positions at Harvard University and University of California at Berkeley. She is married to economics Nobel prize winner George Akerlof.

Meanwhile, Bernanke arrived for his first day on the job at the Brookings Institution yesterday morning, just three days after completing an eight-year tenure as chairman of the US Federal Reserve.

Bernanke, whose stint atop the US central bank was marked by financial crisis and policy experimentation in the face of the Great Recession, joins the centrist policy think-tank in Washington as a distinguished fellow in residence, Brookings said. 

There had been some speculation that the former Princeton professor would land at Brookings, where he is expected to write a book, though the quick jump from one job to another may come as a surprise. Brookings prides itself as nonpartisan and having members from both sides of the US political spectrum, though some see it as somewhat left of center.

“Brookings scholars have a well established reputation for contributing innovative ideas and trenchant analysis to economic and other public policy debates,” Bernanke said in a statement issued by Brookings. “I welcome the opportunity to engage in that vibrant community through research and writing.”

AFP/reuters

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