Janet Yennen is only the second woman to run a state central bank anywhere. The sixty-seven year-old is Brooklyn born, to a doctor father and teacher mother.
In 1997 she was chair of President Bill Clinton’s council of economic advisors following a glittering academic career for both her and her Nobel-prizewinning husband George Akerlof, by way of Harvard, the LSE, and San Francisco.
In 2010, after being on the Federal Reserve board of governors since 1994 she was named as Fed boss Ben Bernanke’s deputy. Her 1990s return to the Fed had meant husband George looking after their son Robert as Janet’s career blossomed.
She was mentored at Yale by a Nobel prizewinner, James Tobin, and when herself a teacher at Harvard she taught Larry Summers, the man she beat to this job.
Ben Bernanke appears to have found a successor who will maintain his ethos of doing anything and everything possible to ward off depression: Yellen is thought to be convinced that it is better to let inflation rip a little than let unemployment spin out of control, and so she favours growth over austerity.
Yennen has a reputation as a fiscal “dove”, but she will now have to grapple with arguably the world economy’s biggest job, which will be the ultimate test of her abilities. And although no stranger to the big occasion, she will now be a global figure the world will stop and listen to.
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