Fed future: Janet Yellen to be nominated as Ben Bernanke’s replacement

by
October 9, 2013

President Obama on Wednesday will nominate Janet Yellen, a loyal lieutenant of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and an economist dedicated to improving the nation’s job prospects, to become the first woman to head the century-old central bank.

She will be nominated while the White House and congressional Republicans remained locked in a monumental battle over the nation’s debt limit, which is roiling global markets and depressing an already tepid economic recovery. That creates a particularly challenging economic environment to inherit when Mr. Bernanke retires at the end of January.

The threat to economic growth from the budget standoff likely was a factor swaying the president to forward the nomination long urged by liberals in his own party, who preferred Ms. Yellen and her commitment to increasing employment over the seemingly more hawkish views of former White House economic adviser Lawrence H. Summers, Mr. Obama’s first choice for the job. Mr. Summers cited opposition from Senate liberals and the brewing confrontation with Congress over the budget in withdrawing from the running last month.

Because Ms. Yellen was the preferred candidate of more than a third of the Senate’s Democrats, her nomination likely faces smooth sailing, although her liberal views supporting Mr. Bernanke’s use of extraordinary and unconventional Fed powers to juice the economy rankle many Republicans.

Republicans have not openly opposed the nomination and are not expected to try to derail it, but some may be tempted to delay it or view it as a strategic bargaining chip in the budget standoff with the White House.

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