Obama wants Yellen as Fed vice chair

Source says president of San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank will be nominated for vacant seat


Jim Kuhnhenn
March 12, 2010 6:22PM (UTC)

President Barack Obama intends to nominate Janet Yellen, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, to take over as vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, a person familiar with the selection said Friday.

Yellen is considered a dove on monetary policy, meaning she is more concerned about high unemployment than rising inflation. As vice chair she would be the second highest ranking Fed official.

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Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn's decision to step down at the end of June opened a third seat on the seven-member board, giving Obama a chance to put a bigger imprint on the central bank. His selections would have to be confirmed by the Senate.

The Federal Reserve can control economic growth, employment and inflation through its power to set interest rates. It also is the country's lender of last resort when banks can't get their money elsewhere -- a tool that the Fed exercised fully at the height of the financial crisis. It also supervises thousands of banks, ranging from large bank holding companies to small state-chartered institutions.

The Fed vacancies have stirred debate over the future direction of interest-rate policy at the Fed. Given the fragile state of the economic recovery and the high jobless rate, Obama may come under pressure to choose people more inclined to keep interest rates low to spur growth and fight unemployment than to raise them to control inflation.

Yellen served as a top economic adviser to President Bill Clinton. She has had a long history with the Federal Reserve system and has been president of the San Francisco Fed since 2004. Before that she was a member of the Fed's Board of Governors from 1994 to 1997.

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Associated Press writer Jeannine Aversa contributed to this report.

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Jim Kuhnhenn

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