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Janet Yellen ’71PhD: Next chair of the Fed?

With Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke's term coming to an end in January, talk has been turning lately to who might take his place. The odds-on favorite, according to a recent Wall Street Journal survey of economists, is Janet Yellen ’71PhD, the current vice-chair of the Fed.

Yellen, 66, who started working for the Federal Reserve in 1977, studied at Yale under Nobel Prize winner James Tobin. (She served the University as an alumni trustee from 2000 to 2006.) As this week's Journal profile makes clear, she is known for her interest in and concern about unemployment, which makes some inflation hawks uneasy: as Fed chief, would she be too willing to keep interest rates low and risk inflation in order to grow the economy? 

Differences of opinion aside, though, Yellen is much admired in Washington. "I hold her in the highest possible regard,” former Fed economist Kevin Hassett, now with the American Enterprise Institute, told the New York Times. He added that if the Obama administration is “going to pick a Fed chair that thinks the way they do, then Janet Yellen would be the best possible choice.”

Twenty-nine out of 38 economists asked by the Journal said they thought Yellen would get the job. But that's assuming that Bernanke does not intend to go for a third seven-year term, something that is not yet certain.

Filed under Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve
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