Janet Yellen, Professor Emeritus at Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, received her Ph.D. in economics from Yale University in 1971. That same year, around 22 economists received their Ph.D. degrees, but she was the only woman among them. James Tobin and Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureates, supervised her dissertation on “Employment, Output and Capital Accumulation in an Open Economy: A Disequilibrium Approach”. According to Stiglitz, she was one of his brightest and most memorable students ever.
Rising to the top of the academic ladder with excellence, Yellen has reached the pinnacle of the US financial system: she was appointed as chair of the Federal Reserve during President Barack Obama term (2014-2018), and recently appointed as the new Secretary of the Treasury in US President Joe Biden’s administration.
She chaired the Council of Economic Advisers during President Bill Clinton's term, and the Economic Policy Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development from 1997 to 1999. Between 2004 and 2020, Yellen was the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Before President Obama nominated Yellen as Chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, she served as the vice-chair of the Fed for four years. A strong advocate of continued government support for workers and businesses, Yellen has been publicly warning that lack of aid to state and local governments could slow recovery, as in the aftermath of the Great Recession when she was leading the Fed.
Since leaving the Fed in 2018, Yellen has been focused on climate change and the need for the US government to do more to protect the economy from the Coronavirus pandemic. She called for increased government spending to ensure a strong and quick exit from a steep recession. She has always seen in the growing economic inequality a threat to the USA’s values and future
Often described “a feminist icon” in the world of economy, Yellen was the first woman in US history to chair the Federal Reserve, the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and the first women to serve as the Secretary of the Treasury. Yellen was nominated by President Joe Biden for the new position at a critical time for the country which is facing catastrophic impacts of the pandemic (COVID-19).
Thus, Yellen's new position at the center of the American and public economic policymaking marks a remarkable juncture in the history of political-economic thought. Some common economic theories on public debt, government spending, inflation, unemployment, and income distribution collide with facts and reality spawned by the economic crisis facing all countries combating the spread of the pandemic and curbing its devastating social impacts. No doubt, with Yellen's intellectual excellence and proven economic policy acumen, her tenure marks a new era in the relationship between governments, markets, and citizens. Some see points of resemblance in the Biden Administration policies and those of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose New Deal beat the Great Depression and brought about fundamental changes in the structure of the American economy and contemporary thought.
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