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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Washington (AFP) – President Barack Obama will nominate Janet Yellen Wednesday as the first female head of the U.S. Federal Reserve, at a time when raging political turbulence imperils a fragile American economy.

Obama will put Yellen forward for a four-year term, succeeding outgoing U.S. central bank chief Ben Bernanke, whose tenure and policies will forever be associated with tackling the global financial crisis and navigating a recovery.

A U.S. official said Tuesday that the announcement will be made at a White House event at 1900 GMT, also attended by Bernanke, paving the way for confirmation hearings.

Yellen, a vice chair of the Fed for four years, was always a contender for the top post but she emerged a clear favorite after another possible pick, former Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers, pulled out of the running due to opposition from Obama’s Democratic allies in the Senate.

Yellen, 67, sits in the middle of the Fed “doves” — those focused on stimulating the economy back to full employment and, not yet at least, worried about the specter of easy money sparking uncontrollable inflation.

But one of her first tasks as Fed chief, if confirmed by the Senate, will be to judge how quickly to taper off the monetary stimulus policies that the central bank had earlier appeared set to ease by the end of the year.

Economists and markets widely expected the $85 billion a month quantitative easing program to be scaled back after September’s Federal Reserve Open Market committee (FOMC) meeting.

But a worsening of some key economic indicators, as well as political battles over economic policy in Washington, forced a rethink. Market confidence had also been rattled by talk of a sudden end to Fed stimulus.

Yellen has spent more than a dozen years altogether at the Fed in various roles.

Born in New York, she is married to economics Nobel prize winner George Akerlof and is the mother of economics professor Robert Akerlof. She studied economics at Brown University and then Yale, where she earned a doctorate.

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