Who is Janet Yellen?

The former Chair of the Federal Reserve is set to make waves in Washington

And so it begins. As Donald Trump’s court battles continue to nosedive like slack dominoes, president-elect Joe Biden has started to weave together the threads of his administrative fabric. While Obama alumnus Antony Blinken has been given the nod to serve as secretary of state, the appointment of Capitol Hill stalwart John Kerry as climate tsar signals that the Democrats have serious intentions – at least in the coming four years – to tackle the issue.

But it is Biden’s nomination of Janet Yellen, the former chair of the Federal Reserve, as US treasury secretary that has been most extolled.

If approved by the Senate, the 74-year-old veteran economist from Brooklyn will become the first woman to hold the role in the department’s 231-year history, and her arrival will coincide with one of the most volatile and tumultuous economic periods to date, due to the ongoing public health crisis and subsequent shutdowns. In April, during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, US unemployment reached a postwar high of 14.7% and, although the job market has seen a steady improvement, the overall trajectory has stalled as a result of increasing infection rates, with women and people of colour being hit the hardest.

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