updated 11/15/2013 AT 1:00 PM ET
•originally published 11/15/2013 AT 1:30 PM ET
Janet Yellen is on the verge of becoming one of the most powerful women in the world.
Yellen, President Obama’s choice for the next Federal Reserve chair, appeared in front of the Senate Banking Committee Thursday in the first of her confirmation hearings to lead the U.S. central bank. Here are five must-know facts about the Brooklyn-born economist.
She was an early warner of the dangers of the 2007 credit crunch. “[Yellen] had sounded the alarm bell early about the housing market bubble and excesses in the financial markets before the recession,” Obama said in his speech introducing her as his nominee. “She calls it like she sees it.”
She’s more concerned with jobs than inflation. The Federal Reserve has two main goals, which are often in conflict: prevent inflation and lower unemployment. Right now, despite Fed efforts to pump money into the economy, unemployment is high and inflation is low, a reverse of conventional wisdom. Yellen is on record saying she would accept more inflation – up to a point – if it came alongside a drop in the unemployment rate.
She’s already faced sexist media coverage. Before Yellen was an official nominee, a “subtle, sexist whispering campaign” spread rumors that she wasn’t tough enough for the job. Even during her confirmation hearings, congressional newspaper Roll Call published a post slamming her for wearing the same suit twice in a six-week period.
Her husband was a stay-at-home dad. When Yellen accepted a job leading President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers in 1997, her husband George Akerlof took a leave of absence in order to manage their household. It doesn’t appear to have impacted his career – he won the Nobel Prize in economics a few years later.
She’s a jogger. Like fellow Beltway bigwigs George W. Bush and Paul Ryan, Yellen is a distance runner. In 2004, she ran a half-marathon at age 57, finishing in just over three hours.
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