Janet Louise Yellen is an American economist at the Brookings Institution who served as the Chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, and as Vice Chair from 2010 to 2014. She was the first woman to head the Federal Reserve.
Early life and education
Yellen was born in a Polish Jewish family in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of New York City's Brooklyn borough, where she also grew up. Her mother was Anna Ruth (née Blumenthal; 1907–1986), an elementary school teacher, and her father Julius Yellen (1906–1975), a family physician, who worked from the ground floor of their home. Her mother quit her job to take care of Janet and her older brother, John. She graduated from local Fort Hamilton High School as a valedictorian.
Yellen graduated summa cum laude from Pembroke College in Brown University with a degree in economics in 1967. At Brown, she switched her planned major from philosophy to economics and was particularly influenced by professors George Borts and Herschel Grossman. She received her Ph.D. in economics from Yale University in 1971. Her dissertation was titled "Employment, Output and Capital Accumulation in an Open Economy: A Disequilibrium Approach" under the supervision of (later to be) Nobel laureates James Tobin and Joseph Stiglitz, who has called Yellen one of his brightest and most memorable students. Two dozen economists earned their Ph.D from Yale in 1971, including Uri Possen and Gary Smith, but Yellen was the only woman in that doctoral class.
Yellen was an assistant professor at Harvard in 1971–76, an economist with the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in 1977–78, and a lecturer at The London School of Economics and Political Science in 1978–80. Beginning in 1980, Yellen conducted research at the Haas School and taught macroeconomics to full-time and part-time MBA and undergraduate students. She is now a Professor Emerita at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business, where she was named Eugene E. and Catherine M. Trefethen Professor of Business and Professor of Economics. Twice she has been awarded the Haas School's outstanding teaching award.
Yellen served as Chair of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers from February 18, 1997, to August 3, 1999, and was appointed as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors from August 12, 1994, to February 17, 1997. She chaired the Economic Policy Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development from 1997–1999.
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco
From June 14, 2004, until 2010, Yellen was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She was a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) in 2009. Following her appointment to the Federal Reserve in 2004, she spoke publicly and in meetings of the Fed's monetary policy committee, about her concern about the potential consequences of the boom in housing prices. However, Yellen did not lead the San Francisco Fed to "move to check increasingly indiscriminate lending" of Countrywide Financial, the largest lender in the U.S.
Vice-chair of the Federal Reserve
On April 28, 2010, President Obama nominated Yellen to succeed Donald Kohn as vice-chair of the Federal Reserve System. In July, the Senate Banking Committee voted 17–6 to confirm her, though the top Republican on the panel, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, voted no, saying he believed Yellen had an "inflationary bias". At the same time, on the heels of related testimony by Fed Chairman Bernanke, FOMC voting member James B. Bullard of the St. Louis Fed made a statement that the U.S. economy was "at risk of becoming 'enmeshed in a Japanese-style deflationary outcome within the next several years.'"
Chair of the Federal Reserve
On October 9, 2013, Yellen was officially nominated to replace Bernanke as Chair of the Federal Reserve, the first vice chair to be elevated. During the nomination hearings held on November 14, 2013, Yellen defended the more than $3 trillion in stimulus funds that the Fed had been injecting into the U.S. economy. Additionally, Yellen testified that U.S. monetary policy is to revert towards more traditional monetary policy once the economy is back to normal.
After the Federal Reserve
On February 2, 2018, the Brookings Institution announced that Yellen would be joining the think tank as a Distinguished Fellow in Residence. She will be affiliated with the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, joining her predecessor and former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke.