On Monday Dr. Janet Yellen was confirmed by the Senate as the first woman in our nation’s 245 year history to be Secretary of the Treasury (a job many of us now know was first done by Alexander Hamilton, thank you musical theater). After I celebrated her nomination on Facebook, it was brought to my attention that some people don’t know what an economic powerhouse Dr. Yellen is. Since she’s going to be the deciding voice in how much money the United States has for probably the next 4 years, allow me to give you a verse and drop some knowledge.
If her name sounds a little familiar, you might be recalling when she was the first chairwoman of the Federal Reserve under President Obama. She was nominated to the seat in 2014 and was confirmed with decent bipartisan support. At the Fed she was instrumental in continuing the recovery for the ’08-’09 Financial Crisis. The Federal Reserve has what’s called a Dual Mandate to BOTH keep price inflation low (by being the Bank for Banks and deciding how much to charge in interest, which then trickles out to all other interest rates) AND create an economy where as many people as possible will be employed. These two objectives typically work in opposite directions. Keep rates low and companies should be able to afford to grow and hire more people; but keep rates too low and we get an economic bubble that ends in disaster. It’s a tricky role, but over 90% of Wall Street economists surveyed in 2017 graded her a B or better – 60% gave an A – on her performance as chairwoman. Translation? Even though she was appointed by a Democrat, typically Republican-leaning experts support her as well.
Prior to her time at The Fed, Dr. Yellen served as President Clinton’s chair of the Council of Economic Advisors. She is now the first person, male or female, to complete the US economic “hat trick” of chairing that council, chairing the Fed, and running the Treasury. She’s been focusing on how to make our economy run best since earning her PhD from Yale in 1971. Think about how that must have gone for her; the university didn’t even allow women until 1968! This lady knows how to stare difficult situations in the face and handle them calmly. And she’s married to a Noble laureate in economics. No big deal. She is the perfect candidate to guide our nation past this crisis and I am absolutely delighted to have a respected, experienced expert at the helm.
Oh, and for those of you who think the first female Secretary of the Treasury deserves the Hamilton treatment, artist Dessa has you covered: