Born In: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Janet Yellen is an American economist who has been serving as the 78th United States secretary of the treasury since January 2021. She is the first woman to hold that post, as well as the chair of the Federal Reserve, which she held from 2014 to 2018. Prior to that, she held the Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve between 2010 and 2014. She also served as the chair of President Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers in 1997-99 and oversaw a landmark report on gender pay gap that concluded that the disparity was not explained by productivity and must constitute discrimination in the workforce. Yellen, who is considered a "dove" on monetary policy for being more concerned with unemployment than with inflation, had successfully convinced Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan against committing to a zero-inflation policy in 1996, when she was a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. She served as a distinguished fellow in residence for the Brookings Institution when President Donald Trump refused to re-nominate her for another term as Federal Reserve chairwoman. She has also held academic posts in various prestigious institutions including Harvard University, London School of Economics, and Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is also professor emeritus.
Also Known As: Janet Louise Yellen
Spouse/Ex-: George Akerlof
father: Julius Yellen
mother: Anna Ruth
children: Robert Akerlof
Born Country: United States
City: New York City
U.S. State: New Yorkers
education: Yale University, Brown University
Janet Louise Yellen was born on August 13, 1946 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York City, United States, to Polish-Jewish parents Julius Yellen, a family physician, and Anna Ruth, an elementary school teacher. Her mother left her job and became a stay-at-home mother to raise her and her older brother John (b. 1942), who later became director for archaeology at the National Science Foundation.
She attended Fort Hamilton High School, where she was the editor-in-chief of the school newspaper Pilot which, under her leadership, continued its 13-year streak of topping the Columbia Scholastic Press Association contest. She was among few students to win the state Regents scholarships and the mayor’s citation for scholarship, and was admitted to a selective science honors program at Columbia University through a National Merit commendation letter.
After graduating as class valedictorian in 1963, she entered Pembroke College in Brown University to study philosophy, but soon switched major to economics after being influenced by professors George Herbert Borts and Herschel Grossman. She graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in economics in 1967, following which she obtained her master's degree and PhD in economics from Yale University in 1971.
Janet Yellen held the position of assistant professor of economics at Harvard University from 1971 to 1976, but failed to win tenure at Harvard in 1977. She was subsequently recruited as a staff economist for the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors by Edwin M. Truman, who knew her from Yale.
She left her post following her marriage to George Akerlof to accompany him as he accepted a teaching position at the London School of Economics (LSE) in the United Kingdom. She was given a tenure-track lectureship by LSE and remained there for two years before returning to the US.
She joined the faculty at the Berkeley's Haas School of Business in 1980 to conduct macroeconomics research, apart from teaching undergraduate and MBA students, and went on to receive the school’s outstanding teaching award twice. She became a full professor in 1985 and was appointed Bernard T. Rocca, Jr. Professor of International Business and Trade in 1992.
She took leave of absence from Berkeley in 1994 after President Bill Clinton nominated her as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and was approved without much Republican opposition. She left the position in 1997 to become the head of Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers and also chaired the Economic Policy Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development from 1997 to 1999.
Amid rumors of her turning down the central bank's vice chairwoman position, she returned to Berkeley in 1999 and resumed teaching as Eugene E. and Catherine M. Trefethen Professor of Business Administration. During 1999-2003, she also jointly held appointment with the University of California, Berkeley's Department of Economics and was later awarded the title of Professor Emeritus at UC Berkeley in 2006.
She was appointed president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in June 2004 and was a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee on a rotating basis once every three years. During her tenure, she was one of the first economic policy makers who had expressed concerns about the potential consequences of the boom in housing prices that eventually led to the mortgage crisis of 2008.
In 2010, she was appointed vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors by President Barack Obama, who also nominated her as the next head of the Federal Reserve System three years later. Despite Republican concerns over her emphasis on reducing unemployment than controlling inflation, she was confirmed as the Federal Reserve chair in January 2014 by 56–26 votes, the narrowest margin ever for the position.
While her four-year tenure was noted for job and wage growth while keeping interest rates low, she was not re-nominated by President Donald Trump, whom she had opposed while defending the landmark Dodd–Frank Act. She subsequently joined the think tank of the Brookings Institution in February 2018 as a distinguished fellow in residence with the Economic Studies program.
Following the 2020 presidential election, President-elect Joe Biden announced her nomination as secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and she was confirmed by the Senate in January by 84–15 votes. She started her four-year tenure proposing a global minimum corporate tax rate to prevent profit shifting by multinational companies for tax avoidance purposes and has repeatedly advocated for increasing or suspending the nation's debt limit.
Janet Yellen was the first person to have led the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the Federal Reserve, and the Treasury Department, and the first woman to hold the latter two positions. At the Council of Economic Advisers, she oversaw the landmark report "Explaining Trends in the Gender Wage Gap".
Apart from making important economic policies, she published several academic papers together with her Harvard colleague Rachel McCulloch and articles with her husband George Akerlof as well as others. She has also co-written the book The Fabulous Decade: Macroeconomic Lessons from the 1990s with Akerlof and the book Efficiency Wage Models of the Labor Market with former Fed governor and professor Alan Blinder.
Janet Yellen met fellow economist George A. Akerlof, a co-winner of the 2001 Economics Nobel Prize, at the cafeteria of the Federal Reserve in 1977 and they married in 1978 following a whirlwind romance. They share a son named Robert, born in 1981, who is a Yale and Harvard alumnus and is an associate professor of economics at the University of Warwick.
Following Janet Yellen’s historic nomination as the nation's first female secretary of the Treasury in December 2020, President-elect Biden had jokingly suggested that Lin-Manuel Miranda should write a Hamiltonesque musical about her. American rapper Dessa subsequently released the song, "Who's Yellen Now?", commissioned by Marketplace, for which she later thanked the rapper.
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