No government body can illicit snores more effectively than the Federal Reserve, the government’s banking system.
The mayor of Snoresville and the current chairman of the Fed is Ben Bernanke.
He’s led the U.S. and the world through the upswinging economy from when he started in 2006 to the present day with its lackluster economy.
The storm about the next chair of the Fed, however, has blessedly passed.
That storm had everything: Clinton insiders, sexism, racism, quantitative easing and a national media frenzy.
The curent top contender for the Fed’s top job is Janet Yellen and, luckily, not Larry Summers, who withdrew his nomination this past Sunday, because he saw a big nomination fight that would be “deleterious.”
Obama’s still in the doghouse with the liberal members of his party, though, because he called Summers a “critical member” of his team. Why, Obama? Come on, man. How was Summers even in the top 5 for this job?
He was just completely not right for it. Here’s why:
1. He’s sexist. The Harvard Crimson reported in 2005 that Summers gave a speech about gender inequality and essentially blamed women for not wanting to put in 80-hour workweeks to advance in math, science and engineering fields. He also blamed gender inequality on genetic differences between men and women.
2. He’s a “first-world” problem solver. As chief economist at the World Bank, he “satirically” advocated that “Under-populated countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted; their air quality is probably vastly, inefficiently low.” Does Summers thinks that exporting toxicity to the third world is a notion worth putting on World Bank stationary and signing his name to it? Apparently.
3. He’s one of the masterminds who helped create the 2007 international stock market crash. Remember that one? The biggest since the Great Depression? This guy, I tell you.
In an interview with Reuters, he admits to, but does not apologize for, the deregulation of the stock markets, which many say facilitated the 2008 financial crisis. These regulations were put in place to keep the Great Depression from happening again, but Summers thought we were past that: It was old news, almost prehistoric.
On the other end of the spectrum of central bankers is the capable, intelligent and thoughtful Yellen — and she couldn’t be more different from Summers. Here are three reasons that she should be Chairwoman of the Federal Reserve:
1. She’s been on the inside for a long time. She has advised the Fed in economic matters for years, and she ran the San Francisco Fed for a few years before taking up her current digs: vice-chairwoman of the Federal Reserve System.
Her role as vice-chair under Bernanke has been cleaning up Summers’s mess since he deregulated the financial markets, as mentioned above. Can’t you just hear her saying, “Larry, I’m not your maid!”
2. She’s a dove, in the economic sense of the word. She isn’t afraid to stand up for the little guy, with her dove-ish stance to keep inflation on the high side in order to keep unemployment down. See? She’s looking out for our interests! A job for everyone and everyone for a job. Thanks, Janet Yellen!
3. Yellen is willing to listen to all sides of the argument, and hold steadfast in her beliefs at the same time. A recent New York Times opinion piece by Joseph E. Stiglitz noted, “We need someone who knows how to build consensus, not someone who excels in bullying, who knows how to listen to and respect the views of others.”
We really dodged a bullet when he withdrew his nomination.
I’m glad we can bring some pluralism to as staid and opaque of an institution as the Federal Reserve. Let’s do it right this time and have a groundswell for Janet Yellen, who will look out for Main Street.
Reach the columnist at email@example.com or follow him at @peternorthfelt