Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 5 December 2020

Former Fed chair Janet Yellen under consideration for Treasury chief post

Joe Biden has promised to pick a diverse cabinet during his term at the White House

Janet Yellen, former chair of the US Federal Reserve, is being considered for the post of Treasury chief under Biden's administration. Bloomberg  
Janet Yellen, former chair of the US Federal Reserve, is being considered for the post of Treasury chief under Biden's administration. Bloomberg  

Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is under consideration to be President-elect Joe Biden’s Treasury secretary, according to people familiar with the matter, joining other possible contenders.

Ms Yellen has withdrawn from at least one upcoming speaking engagement because she is now in contention for Treasury secretary, one of the people familiar with the matter said. The people spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss personnel deliberations.

Mr Biden has promised to pick a diverse cabinet, which means he could choose the first Black or female Treasury secretary in history. His team is also eyeing Fed Governor Lael Brainard and former Fed Vice Chair Roger Ferguson for the job, Bloomberg News reported in September.

Mr Biden is launching his transition efforts to shape the new administration, but he is still weeks away from making cabinet nominations, his transition team said on Friday. He met earlier this week to discuss cabinet nominations with close advisers, according to transition official Jen Psaki.

A spokesman for the Biden transition team said it was not making any new personnel decisions yet.

Since at least August, when Mr Biden accepted the Democratic nomination, Ms Yellen has been among a group of economists who have briefed Mr Biden on the state of the economy.

Ms Yellen, now a distinguished fellow in residence at the Brookings Institution, was appointed by President Barack Obama as the first woman to serve as Fed chair. She held the job for one term before President Donald Trump appointed Jerome Powell to lead the central bank.

A Brookings spokesperson didn’t reply to a request for comment on Ms Yellen that was made after business hours.

The progressive wing of the Democratic party is likely to welcome Ms Yellen as Mr Biden’s Treasury secretary due in part to her strong comments on how economic policy makers can address climate change.

Since stepping down as Fed chair, she has joined investment banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co, Goldman Sachs Group, and oil companies Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips and Shell, in urging policy makers to consider a tax on carbondioxide emissions.

“From the standpoint of an economist, the most efficient way to tackle climate change is to tax emissions -- to create a disincentive to emit carbon dioxide,” Ms Yellen said in 2018. “It’s the right solution to a problem, and it’s collected in a way that is practical and feasible.”

Mr Biden said in October that, if elected president, he would consider creating a special White House office led by a climate “czar” to coordinate efforts to fight global warming. One plan he’s weighing would give multiple agencies, including the Treasury Department, a role in addressing climate change.

Laurence Meyer, whose term as a governor at the Fed overlapped with Ms Yellen’s in the 1990s, said he expects she would do whatever is needed to help Mr Biden succeed.

“Janet doesn’t campaign” for jobs “and she doesn’t have to,” Mr Meyer said. “She wants a successful Biden administration.”

Updated: November 14, 2020 08:52 AM

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