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Senate poised to confirm Yellen as Federal Reserve chair

If confirmed, Yellen will make history by becoming the first woman to head the US central banking system

Janet Yellen, President Obama’s nominee to chair the Federal Reserve, at her confirmation hearing on Nov. 14, 2013 on Capitol Hill.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Senate, which begins its 2014 session on Monday, intends to waste no time making history as it moves to approve Janet Yellen to be the first woman to head the Federal Reserve.

A vote is set for 5:30 p.m. on Yellen, 67, who has been vice chair of the Fed since 2010. If confirmed, Yellen would succeed Ben Bernanke, whose second four-year term ends on Jan. 31.

In an early sign that Yellen commands enough support to win confirmation, the Democratic-controlled Senate voted 59-34 on Dec. 20 to move forward with the nomination.

President Barack Obama’s choice of Yellen put her in line to become the first female chief of the powerful U.S. central bank in its 100-year history and just one of a handful of women heading central banks globally.

Yellen has been an unwavering advocate of the Fed’s aggressive steps to boost the U.S. economy as it struggled to emerge from a severe economic recession.

In late 2008, the Federal Reserve cut overnight interest rates – which is the interest rate at which banks lends balances to each other overnight – to near zero and has since conducted a series of massive bond purchase programs intended to keep long-term borrowing costs low.

The result has been a falling U.S. jobless rate, which hit a five-year low in November of 7 percent as the pace of economic growth has also picked up.

Assuming the Senate approves her nomination, Yellen’s main task will be to navigate the central bank’s way out of its extraordinary stimulus, dialing down its current bond-buying program. The U.S. central bank trimmed that program to $75 billion per month, from $85 billion, at a much anticipated policy meeting last month.

During a mid-November Senate Banking Committee hearing on her nomination, Yellen defended the Fed’s aggressive actions to foster economic growth and said, “I consider it imperative that we do what we can to promote a very strong recovery.”

Some Republicans, though, have expressed concerns the Fed may have gone too far.

“I think the economy has gotten used to the sugar you’ve put out there and I just worry that we’re on a sugar high,” Senator Mike Johanns of Nebraska said at the time.

Source:Reuters 

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