Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Today a woman becomes one of the most powerful people in the world. It's about time.

Today is going to be a special day that people should remember for a long time. It's widely expected that Janet Yellen will be nominated by Obama to replace Bernanke as the head of the Federal Reserve come January. When this happens, she will be the first woman to ever chair the Federal Reserve. And this also makes her (arguably) the most powerful policy-making person in the world.

Why would I say this? A single sentence from our present Federal Reserve Chairman earlier this year made the global market shed $3 trillion dollars in 24-hours. Yes, that's right. A single sentence. Even the president might need a couple of sentences to accomplish the same task. Perhaps even a whole paragraph. It's incredible to think of just how powerful that is. One misplaced adjective or adverb can make you lose money, can impact your retirement, can threaten the financial future of your entire family. If you don't live in the U.S. and think you're safe, you're dead wrong. The Nikkei, the Hang Seng, and other markets around the world always look to the U.S. for guidance. That's why we're a super power.

The Federal Reserve Chair is appointed by the president, but once that's done it operates pretty much independently of the executive branch. The Federal Reserve does what it wants to do and only has to answer to Congress. Financial markets reinforce the notion that the Fed chair is essentially "all-powerful." I personally think it's because of QE that the stock market hasn't totally cratered and dropped a thousand points in one day (with all the dysfunction in Washington). That's how powerful the central bank just happens to be.

So who is Janet Yellen? Well she's a real life Dumbledore only her weapon isn't a wand.

1) She has a PhD from Yale and her mentor was Nobel-Prize winning economist James Tobin.
2) She taught at Harvard for five years.
3) She married Nobel Prize winner George Akerlof (another economist).
4) She served as faculty at the London School of Economics for two years.
5) In 1980 she went to work at the University of California, Berkeley.
6) In 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

In thinking about the strides that women have made recently with Nancy Pelosi becoming the first Speaker of the House, and with Marissa Meyer taking over Yahoo, and now Janet Yellen becoming the first female Federal Reserve Chairman, I have to ask...what's next?

You women out there might have me believe that we'll have a woman president on the horizon (I say that tongue-in-cheek of course). I guess only time will tell.

TL;DR: Today a woman becomes one of the most powerful people in the world. It's about time.


  1. The problem with these sorts of strides is that they tend to be isolated instances rather than making it easier for others to follow. It's good that exceptional women get elevated, but there are a lot of unexeptional men at the same level and 'quite good' women don't get the same breaks as them. That's where the real battle is, access for women and minorities to well-paid mediocrity.

    Moody Writing

  2. My wife is a first generation Filipina-American who graduated the United States Naval Academy in 2000.

    Last week, she took over command of her own unit and as the Commanding Officer, the buck stops with her.

    I am rightfully and terribly proud of her and yeah, ladies - you so *can* be all you want to be.

    Don't let any of us stuffy males tell you otherwise :)

  3. Just read Mark's comment - that's awesome!

  4. hopefully she'll do a good job

  5. Hooray! And yet Hollywood still quivers in its boots at the notion of a Wonder Woman movie. lol

  6. Maybe the next step is women writers will be set free from the chick lit/women's fiction ghetto and their work will be considered next to the "serious" white guys who've dominated the industry since, well, forever!

  7. There was the Iron Lady. She was pretty powerful in her day.

  8. @Mark: Thanks for your comment!

    @Andrew: I was thinking more of present day fiscal power than what happened decades ago.

  9. Yes, it is time for women to take a front seat to what's going on in the world today. Ms. Yellen may be too liberal for some Republican conservatives but I think she'll be confirmed.

  10. It's a step in the right direction. I just don't know much else about her, but that's gotta be the toughest job on the planet.

  11. Too bad she can't do something about Congress. Ah well...

  12. It sounds like she has good qualifications. I was reading her her background the other day and was impressed. If she keeps the Fed in line with sound fiscal policy then I will be thrilled with her. I need to see what Krugman says about her though because woman or no- it's more important to have good policy.

  13. That's pretty exciting. I'm with Liz about Congress.

  14. How did I miss this posting? Sorry for the late comment, but I was out sick a couple days last week.

    I'm glad Janet Yellen was appointed; from what I've read of her, she's brilliant and determined to make some changes. And I've seen her called the second most powerful person in the country. Good for her!

  15. @Helena: I think Yellen is an excellent pick. I just hope Congress doesn't fight the nomination and drive her out of the running. The landscape of the House is so opposed to anything Obama likes that they are driven only by hatred and rage instead of what is best for our country.

  16. Yellen is an outstanding pick. She is brilliant and I think very much needed. Agree with you about Congress -- they really hate Obama. I saw a comment from a protestor yesterday that stunned me and made me wonder which century we were living in the 19th or 21st. Wow! I'm a firm believer we need a balance of both male and female energy.

  17. @Patricia: It's refreshing to see another person that agrees with my political and societal views.