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Janet Yellen is soon to be the first woman to be the chair of the US Federal Reserve – the most powerful job in the world economy.
The 67-year-old was an academic for many years, and also served as chair of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers and president of the San Francisco Fed. She became vice-chair of the Fed in 2010 and has been the frontrunner for the chairmanship since Larry Summers rescinded his nomination.
A graduate of Brown University and Yale, she is married to the Nobel Prize-winning economist George Akerlof, and has one son.
Her track record of calling events like the housing bubble long before they occur has built her a strong fan base. We look at what’s been written about her and what that says about her likely stance as Fed chair. Read more
By Gideon Rachman
Watching the US budget crisis unfold, I was reminded of a famous passage in The Great Gatsby. “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy,” wrote F Scott Fitzgerald, “they smashed up things, and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together.”
Ted Cruz (Getty)
There is an old joke that the foreigners should be allowed to vote in US presidential elections because the result matters so profoundly to the rest of the world. Worried global investors might now extend that idea to Congressional elections as well – as the US government shutdown shakes global markets, with the promise of far worse to come if Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling in a couple of weeks time, and the American government defaults on its debts as a result.
For much of the rest of the world, America’s actions seem bafflingly illogical and self-harming. The reality, however, is that the Republican congressmen who have pushed this over the brink are not (by and large), crazy. It is just that their political incentives are now stacked towards confrontation with President Obama. Read more
By Gideon Rachman
The Middle East has a way of provoking wild mood swings. The Arab spring of early 2011 was greeted with euphoria in the US and Europe. A month ago, after the coup in Egypt and the chemical weapons attack in Syria, the mood was despairing. Now, hopes are surging again, after a historic phone call between Barack Obama and Hassan Rouhani, the US and Iranian presidents.
Ted Cruz takes the Senate floor
Ten things about Senator Ted Cruz, 42, the junior senator from Texas, who has been talking for more than 14 hours on the Senate floor in a bid to cut off funding for President Barack Obama’s healthcare law.
1) Cruz was one of only three senators to vote against the nomination of John Kerry as secretary of state. “We’ve got two pending nominations, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, both of whom are very prominently anti-US – less than ardent fans of the US military.”
2) In his speech in July 2012, after winning the Republican nomination to run for the Senate he invoked Milton Friedman, the economist. “We should take it as a providential sign that today would be the 100th birthday of Milton Friedman,” Mr Cruz said. “A true champion for liberty, and we are walking in Uncle Milton’s footsteps.” Read more
It’s no secret that the US is at the centre of global trade. But how is what it trades with the world changing? The US International Trade Commission, the independent government agency which investigates anti-dumping cases in the US and also acts as a trade data clearinghouse, this week put out its annual “Shifts in US Merchandise” report. Here’s four things in the report worth thinking about:
1. Americans love their cars and their iPhones. They were the biggest contributors to the $10bn widening of the US trade deficit in 2012. Read more
Is Obama becoming a lame duck?
A week that has seen US president Barack Obama zigzag between diplomacy and military action on Syria and back away from nominating Lawrence Summers as chairman of the Federal Reserve has raised questions about the president’s leadership. Gideon Rachman and Richard McGregor in Washington join Ben Hall to discuss whether the Obama administration has stalled and whether he is in danger of becoming, very prematurely, a lame duck president.
By Gideon Rachman
Viewed from Washington, the Syrian crisis has been only partly about chemical weapons. The other crucial commodity at stake was American “credibility” – that mystical quality on which US and global security is often deemed to depend.
Sandra Pianalto, who has served as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, announced she will be retiring early next year after being in the job for a decade.
Ms Pianalto’s departure may not mean too much for monetary policy. She is known for being a centrist, predictable official on the Federal Open Market Committee, backing the chairman’s view without offering positions that are either too dovish or too hawkish.
Ben Bernanke, Fed chairman, issued an effusive statement on Thursday: “Sandy has been a remarkable colleague who has made invaluable contributions to the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, the Federal Reserve System, and the country. We will miss her thoughtful insights and leadership across a broad range of issues, including monetary policy, payments policy, and community development.” Read more