Signed out

THE OPENER

PRESENTED BY

 Current Position:

Treasury Secretary

 Age:

74

 Hometown:

Brooklyn

 Education:

Brown University, Yale University (MA, PhD)

 Reputation:

Yellen is the first woman to serve as Treasury secretary in U.S. history, and the only person to serve as Treasury secretary, Federal Reserve chair and chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors — the three most powerful economic posts in government.

Early in her academic career, Yellen was strongly influenced by James Tobin, the legendary Yale economics professor and Nobel Prize winner. Yellen wrote her doctoral dissertation under Tobin, who argued central banks should focus more on combating unemployment than inflation. Yellen eventually was able to do both following her appointment as Fed chair by former President Barack Obama in 2014. 

Despite Yellen’s stunning success, former President Donald Trump didn’t appoint her to a second term as Fed chair in 2018. When Joe Biden won the presidency, Yellen was on the short list of potential picks for Treasury secretary.

 Political Considerations:

As Treasury secretary, Yellen will have to balance two competing priorities: Nurturing a still fragile U.S. economy back to health while also making sure inflation doesn’t flare up. It’s not going to be easy. Yellen is already predicting it may take two years for the U.S. economy to get back to pre-pandemic employment levels.

Yellen strongly backed passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, and she’s thrown her support to the even bigger American Jobs Plan, which may cost as much as $4 trillion. The new Biden plan seeks to raise corporate tax rates from 21 percent to 28 percent, and includes a “global minimum tax” to ensure companies aren’t able to avoid taxation by shifting operations overseas. Business groups are already hammering Biden over the plan.

Yellen is also going to have to help convince Congress to go along with boosting the government’s debt ceiling later this fall, another politically dicey operation.

 Inside her orbit:

 Words of Wisdom:

You need no advice as you’ve been there, done it, and succeeded. You know who to trust (only a few) and who not to trust (a few more). You will keep your legendary cool and will use your wit and your smile with all who deserve it, and be decisive when needed. You hold the strings of the U.S. purse, and will do so with a just and firm hand.

Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank

THE OPENER IS PRESENTED BY AMAZON

As the new administration and Congressional leaders take steps to protect the American people and revitalize our economy, Amazon stands ready to help. We’re excited to bring our innovative spirit to the critical work of ensuring fair wages for America’s workers, as we advocate for Congress to pass the Raise the Wage Act. This legislation will increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2025. At Amazon, we raised our starting wage to at least $15 an hour back in 2018 because it’s good for workers, good for business, good for communities and good for our economy.

Passing the Raise the Wage Act would give 32 million U.S. workers the raise they deserve and help revitalize the national economy.