While the next U.S. Treasury Secretary may make history as the first female to hold the role, she is a familiar face to the financial markets and welcome by progressives.
Former Fed Chair Janet Yellen is emerging as a frontrunner on Biden’s short of list of potential picks which is among the most diversified in history with women and African Americans including; former Federal Reserve Vice Chair Roger Ferguson, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President and CEO Raphael Bostic, Federal Reserve Gov. Lael Brainard, as well as Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Progressives aligned with Warren have said they’d consider it a victory if Yellen were appointed.
Yellen has a long history of serving under Democratic administrations. She became the first woman to head the central bank after she was appointed by former President Barack Obama helping guide the U.S. economy in its recovery from the 2008 financial crisis.
That experience would serve her well in 2021 as she would be inheriting a fragile economy and elevated unemployment hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, along with Fed Chair Powell, have injected some of the most inventive fiscal policies in history into the economy in efforts to stabilize a potential collapse including one-time $1,200 stimulus checks for most Americans as part of the CARES Act, the PPP Loan program and interest rates cut to record lows last March when coronavirus first exploded in the U.S.
Yellen, who was succeeded by Powell, was also a lightning rod for a then campaigning Donald J. Trump who accused her of keeping interest rates low to help Obama. Trump also became a frequent and vocal critic of Powell for raising interest rates starting in March 2018.
Yellen also served as head of the Council of Economic Advisors [CEA] under former President Clinton.
A Brooklyn native, Yellen earned a Ph.D. in economics from Yale in 1971 before rising through the ranks of academia. She served as president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank beginning in 2004 through 2010; in 2010, she was appointed as vice-chair of the Fed’s board of governors in Washington.
Biden has said he will announce his pick before or around Thanksgiving. That individual will then need to be confirmed in the Senate by a 51 vote majority.
If Republicans hold their majority of 52 seats – Democrats with 48 members would need to swing 3 GOP senators to confirm Yellen and get all 48 of their members to back Yellen.
Mnuchin, on Friday, told CNBC he will work with his successor “if things get certified.”