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August 13: Janet Yellen

August 13, 2014

131108143529-janet-yellen-hearing-620xaJanet Yellen, the first woman to head the Federal Reserve Bank, was born in Brooklyn on this date in 1946. Yellen earned her Ph.D at Yale and was an assistant professor at Harvard 1971-76 and a lecturer at the London School of Economics, 1978-1980. She joined the Fed board of governors in 1978 and again in 1994, and from 2004 to 2010 she headed the Fed in San Francisco. Yellen is generally considered to be a Keynsian economist and to be more concerned with unemployment than with inflation. “Yellen’s predictive record is the envy of the Fed,” writes Dylan Mathews of the Washington Post. “She was one of the few voices at the Fed in December 2007 warning that recession could be around the corner. At a time when most thought the worst of the subprime crisis was over, she was skeptical. ‘The possibilities of a credit crunch developing and of the economy slipping into a recession seem all too real,’ she warned.” Yellen is married to a Nobel Prize-winning economist, George Akerloff.

“These are not just statistics to me. We know that long-term unemployment is devastating to workers and their families. Longer spells of unemployment raise the risk of homelessness and have been a factor contributing to the foreclosure crisis. When you’re unemployed for six months or a year, it is hard to qualify for a lease, so even the option of relocating to find a job is often off the table. The toll is simply terrible on the mental and physical health of workers, on their marriages, and on their children.” —Janet Yellen