President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as his Treasury Secretary, a historic choice for leading his economic response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Yellen would be the first woman to head the Treasury Department, following the 77 men who have occupied the position over the past 231 years. She was also the first woman to lead the Fed.
“Janet Yellen is brilliant and has a track record for being unflappable,” Greg Valliere, chief US policy strategist at AGF Investments, told CNN. “She seems to be popular in all factions, from the financial markets to Main Street.”
The choice of Yellen was “seen as a win for markets,” CNBC reported, since she would likely “focus on fixing the economy rather than the progressive Democratic agenda feared by some investors.” The Dow Jones Index rose 1.4% on Tuesday to top 30,000 for the first time on record.
Yellen would appeal to “some in the business community, including those who feared [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren herself might be the choice, because [Yellen] is viewed as a more predictable figure,” according to NPR.
But progressives also indicated approval, reflecting Yellen’s concerns about income inequality. In a 2014 speech as Fed chair, she suggested it was a threat to “values rooted in our nation’s history.”
“Biden knew that someone beholden to Wall Street would have undermined his ambitious economic campaign promises at the worst possible time,” Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said. “As Treasury Secretary, Yellen will faithfully implement the ambitious economic agenda Biden campaigned on.”
Yellen was nominated as Fed chair by President Barack Obama and served in the position from 2014 to 2018. If confirmed, she “would play a leading role in shaping economic policy as the United States continues to dig its way out of the deep hole caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” NPR said.
Strategists expect her to be sympathetic to the Fed and likely reverse Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s decision to let Fed emergency lending programs expire at the end of the year.