Janet Yellen confirmed as first woman to run Treasury

Janet Yellen, first woman to run the Treasury

Updated to include a tweet from Janet Yellen on Jan 26.

“Who’s Yellen now?”

Janet Yellen, the Brooklyn-born economist, bschool professor and former Federal Reserve Chair is stepping into her next groundbreaking role. In a bipartisan, 84 to 15 vote, the United States Senate confirmed Janet Louise Yellen to be Treasury secretary. The first woman to lead the Treasury in its 232-year history, Yellen is tasked with the challenge of steering the country back on course toward recovery, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, economic downturn and global tensions – not to mention the division here at home. Her support from both sides of the aisle is encouraging, suggesting that lawmakers and officials will listen to her advice on priorities like the stimulus packages and recovery.

After serving as the first woman Chair of the Fed from 2014-2018, Janet Yellen seems ready for the challenge ahead. In her time as Fed Chair, she oversaw a return to almost full employment. (Unemployment was at its lowest in 17 years when she left the Fed; it was 6.7% when her term started, and 4.1% when she left.) Soft-spoken and responsible for the careful unwinding of policies installed during the Great Recession a decade ago, her words carry weight with many in Washington. Many see her as a wise figure who transcends typical politics (note that 34 Republicans voted for her confirmation). Respected by both sides, she’s calling on lawmakers to “act big” to save the economy and deal with debt later.

“Brooklyn’s in the Cabinet!”

Janet Yellen was born in Brooklyn and graduated summa cum laude in economics from Brown. She received her Ph.D. in economics from Yale and served as an assistant professor of economist at Harvard before heading to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors as an economist. After lecturing at the London School of Economics, she made her way to Berkeley Haas in 1980, where she taught all levels, including undergrads and MBAs for over two decades. (She took the occasional leave of absence to serve as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, head up the Presidential Council of Economic Advisers and Chair the OECD.)

Her time in academia came to an end when she was appointed President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, then vice chair of the Board of Governors of the Fed, and finally when she was confirmed as the head of the Federal Reserve. Since Jerome Powell was named her successor in 2018, she’s remained in DC working for the Brookings Institution as a Distinguished Fellow in Residence for Economic Studies.

“She can rock a power bob”

For two quick looks into her personality, check out this article she wrote for her high school paper in 1963. Each year as a tradition, her school paper’s Editor-in-Chief would interview that year’s valedictorian. An overachiever from a young age (as evidenced by the previous paragraph), she, in fact, held both positions and sat down for the exclusive interview with herself. Click here to read the piece which The New York Times unearthed from The Brooklyn Public Library and featured in 2013.

Another peek into her personality, or perhaps her persona (and thriving fandom among young FinMeme-loving professionals), is a recent rap commissioned by Marketplace and written by Dessa. (You know Dessa from her song “Congratulations” on the popular Hamilton Mixtape.) “Who’s Yellen Now?” captures Yellen’s story and reputation and references melodies from none other than Mary J. Blige. Also, it’s catchy and fun. Fitting that this Hamilton-inspired ode to Yellen would drop in the weeks leading up to her confirmation. She now steps into the role once held, for the first time, by Alexander Hamilton himself.

We’ll leave you with our favorite line:

She’s 5-foot nothing, but hand to God

 She can pop a collar, she can rock a power bob

 Bay Ridge represent!

 Brooklyn’s in the cabinet!

 Damn, Janet, go and get it —

 Fifth in line for president!

From “Who’s Yellen Now?” by Dessa // Marketplace

Download the song here.

Janet Yellen, first woman to run the Treasury
Janet Yellen // Spotify cover of Dessa’s “Who’s Yellen Now?” commissioned by Marketplace

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