Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen is the leading candidate to be President Obama’s nominee to lead the Fed as chairman, a White House official said Wednesday. Barring any unexpected development, that likely means that Yellen will get the nomination, perhaps as soon as next week.
People close to the White House said this week that Yellen was the front-runner after the unexpected withdrawal by former White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers, who was facing sharp resistance on Capitol Hill.
But the statement by the White House official comes closest to confirming that Yellen likely will be Obama’s choice to lead the powerful central bank. As current vice chairman and a longtime Fed official, Yellen is deeply familiar with the inner-workings of the bank and an architect of its efforts to reduce unemployment.
The Fed is holding a policymaking meeting Wednesday, at which it may begin to pull back slightly on bond purchase program that has been stimulating the economy. Still, in part of because of Yellen’s influence, the Fed is expected to maintain extraordinary support for economic growth for several years, as unemployment remains high.
In addition to Yellen, Obama had narrowed his list of candidates to include former Fed vice chairman Donald Kohn, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. While some speculated in light of Summers’s withdrawal the president may consider other candidates, it appears he is focusing on Yellen.
The choice of Yellen and early confirmation that she is the leading candidate likely reflects the White House’s desire to wrap up the Fed nomination process after a protracted spectacle this summer that not only cost Summers’ his candidacy but many observers said was harmful for the Fed.