Who Will Be the Next Head of the Fed?

Anna Williams
Posted

Janet Yellen Federal ReserveAs Federal Reserve Chariman Ben Bernanke’s term comes to an end, a woman is now the top contender to succeed him.

Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve Vice Chair and Bernanke’s current No. 2, has the overwhelming edge over candidates like former Treasury Secretaries Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers, according to a new Reuters poll of economists. Of the economists polled, 40 out of 44 said they expected Yellen to be the successor.

If Bernanke declines a third term, and Yellen is in fact appointed, she will be the first woman chairman since the Federal Reserve was founded in 1913.

A Federal Reserve Veteran

Yellen is noteworthy for far more than her gender, of course. She was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco from 2004 to 2011 and served as chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Clinton.

She was an early herald of trouble brewing in the housing market in 2007, calling it the “600-pound gorilla in the room,” and is a strong supporter of using policy to spur maximum employment and economic growth—what’s known in Fed lingo as a monetary policy “dove.” In 2012, she also headed a subcommittee that announced more transparency in sharing Fed’s action on monetary policy.

Another Historic Nomination

While today about a third of economists are female, the field has traditionally been heavily dominated by men. But women in economics have recently made strides internationally as well. Last month, Elvira Nabiullina of Russia was appointed to head the country’s central bank. She will be the first woman of any of the Group of Eight countries to hold such a position.

Yellen herself agrees that more women leaders in economics will likely be the future. “I really think this is something we’re going to see increase over time,” she told CNN Money. “And it’s time for that to happen.”

RELATED: Closing the Gender Gap Can Help the Economy, Report Says