Janet Yellen, first woman to head US Fed, to leave board of governors once successor sworn in

Yellen’s decision gives Trump in his first year in office the chance to fill five positions on the Fed’s seven-member board, in addition to picking Powell to be the next Fed chairman

AP November 21, 2017 09:27:54 IST
Janet Yellen, first woman to head US Fed, to leave board of governors once successor sworn in

Janet Yellen submitted her resignation from the Federal Reserve board to President Donald Trump on Monday, announcing that she will leave when her successor is sworn in as Fed chairman.

In a letter to the president, Yellen said she would do her “utmost” to ensure a smooth transition to Jerome Powell, who was tapped by Trump on 2 November to become the next Fed leader after the president decided not to offer her a second term.

Yellen’s decision gives Trump in his first year in office the chance to fill five positions on the Fed’s seven-member board, in addition to picking Powell to be the next Fed chairman. Board member Lael Brainard will be the only Fed board member not nominated by Trump, meaning his selections will have tremendous influence in setting the country’s future monetary policy.

Powell’s confirmation hearing is scheduled for next week before the Senate Banking Committee. Powell, at one time the only Republican on the Fed board, is not expected to encounter major hurdles in winning confirmation to the chairman’s job. He has been on the Fed board since 2012.

Janet Yellen first woman to head US Fed to leave board of governors once successor sworn in

Janet Yellen, Chair, US Fed. AP

Yellen’s four-year term as Fed chair ends on 3 February. But she could have chosen to remain on the board until her term as a board member ended in January 2024.

At the moment, the board has three vacancies including the Number 2 spot of vice chairman. The president earlier this year tapped Utah financier Randal Quarles to be vice chairman for supervision.

Until Monday, Yellen had been mum on whether she might stay on the Fed board if she did not get another term as chair.

In her letter to Trump,  Yellen said it had been “my great privilege and honor” to serve in the Federal Reserve system over three decades, first as a member of the board during the 1990s. She served as president of the Fed’s San Francisco regional bank, then Fed board vice chairman. In 2014, Yellen succeeded Ben Bernanke to become the first woman to head the US central bank.

“As I prepare to leave the board, I am gratified that the financial system is much stronger than a decade ago, better able to withstand future bouts of instability,” she said in her resignation letter. “I am also gratified by the substantial improvements in the economy since the crisis.”

Yellen was the first Fed leader not to be offered a second term in four decades. In comments a week before announcing his decision, Trump had suggested that while he held Yellen in high regard, he might want to make his own mark on the central bank by selecting someone else for the top job.

Powell, a lawyer by training, will be the first official without an advanced degree in economics to head up the central bank in four decades.

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