WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced one of his most important economic decisions, nominating Janet Yellen to lead the Federal Reserve system and be his independent co-steward of the U.S. economy. He called her “one of the nation’s foremost economists and policymakers.”
Yellen, 67, who would be elevated from her current position as the Fed’s vice chairwoman if the Senate confirms her nomination for a four-year term, joined Obama in the State Dining Room of the White House. With them was the retiring chairman, Ben Bernanke, whom the president hailed for helping to guide the economy through the worst recession and financial crisis since the Depression.
Yellen would be the first woman to lead the Fed. Her nomination comes amid one of the most rancorous and fraught battles in years between the political parties over the course of the economy. The federal government is in partial shutdown because of an impasse over funding in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, and the Treasury Department is approaching the debt limit next week, jeopardizing its authority to borrow to pay the nation’s bills and forcing emergency actions that could be financially destabilizing at best and provoke a global crisis at worst.