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Editorial: Yellen right for Fed head

Here’s what the American public should know about Janet Yellen, President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Federal Reserve: She’s smart. She has the credentials and experience. And she wants to see the economy strongly revive.

With all that, and more, going for her, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that Yellen’s ascent to Fed chair would be a fait accompli. That impression, however, would not be taking into account the existing political climate that grips Congress. Therefore, let the games begin.

We would like to think that being a woman will be off the table. Yes, if confirmed, she will be first woman to chair the Fed. But Yellen is anything but a politically correct pick for the position.

Since the late 1970s, the Brooklyn, N.Y., native has served with the Federal Reserve Board on and off, including a six-year stint as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and since 2010 as the Federal Reserve’s vice chairwoman.

Although Yellen is operating at a higher level of financial matters, she sees the importance of clear communication and having the public understand what the Fed is doing and the impact its actions can have. As she stated earlier this year, “The effects of monetary policy depend critically on the public getting the message about what policy will do months or years in the future ... I hope and trust that the days of ‘never explain, never excuse’ are gone for good.” And while economists, financial columnists and Wall Street think that she would essentially follow the blueprint put together by the outgoing reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, who had Fed policies serving as a battery to charge the economy and job growth. If anything, Yellen is seen as even more committed to take a proactive approach.

In some quarters, Yellen is seen as too much a “dove,” that is, someone whose goal of bringing down unemployment runs the risk of driving up inflation. We don’t think someone who prioritizes jobs is unfit for this position. Seeing men, women and their families behind the numbers is important and in the long term such an approach is beneficial.

That may not be a view shared by all, but even in the hyper-sensitized political atmosphere of Congress, it shouldn’t be enough to keep this most-qualified candidate from taking the reins of this important post.

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