The nomination of Janet Yellen, by President Obama, to become the first woman to head the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, is cause for celebration on many counts. Perhaps to the general public because it shows that, despite persistent evidence that women leaders are less represented than they should be on corporate boards, in 2013 it is possible for a woman to be promoted to the most powerful role in the business world.
For the financial and wider business community there are two clear reasons for celebration; the first being that Janet Yellen, deputy to outgoing chairman Ben Bernanke, represents continuity. She is an advocate of Bernanke's aggressive action to restore healthy growth to the US economy through low interest rates and large-scale asset purchases. The second cause for professional celebration lies in her record for shrewdness. At the time of the global financial crisis, she was one of the few to anticipate the scale of the problems inherent in subprime housing mortgages, because she understood that their involvement in complex derivatives had turned them into the toxic time bombs that were to ignite a global economic meltdown.
And at IEDP we are pleased to join her colleagues and friends at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business in celebrating ‘Professor’ Yellen’s nomination. Yellen, the Eugene E. and Catherine M. Trefethen Professor Emeritus of Business Administration, taught macroeconomics for more than two decades at the Haas School, where much of her research focused on unemployment and labour markets, monetary and fiscal policies and international trade and investment policy. Earlier this year, she was named a Berkeley Fellow, chosen in recognition of their contributions to the campus.
“I hired her and have been pleased ever since. At the Haas School, her colleagues and students admired her scholarship and her teaching,” said Earl ‘Budd’ Cheit, Dean Emeritus of Berkeley-Haas. “As a dean, I especially admired her willingness to be an institution builder. To me, her defining characteristic is quiet competence.”
Quiet competence, allied to toughness - according to many commentators, are ideal characteristics for a central banker, particularly one set to occupy the most powerful role in the business world – or is that in the World period? Because, as the recent shenanigans in Washington highlight, it is business world rather than the political one that is most likely to solve the economic problems we face.
Read more about Janet Yellen and time at Haas School of Business