Today’s decision to not reappoint Janet Yellen as Chair of the Federal Reserve is the wrong one, and was seemingly rooted in simple-minded partisanship that demanded a Republican president replace a Democratic appointee as Fed chair. This decision breaks a long-standing norm of not elevating partisanship over competence when picking Fed chairs; for example, the last two Democratic presidents re-appointed Republican chairs. Janet Yellen’s performance as chair has been strong. She is a world-renowned expert on macroeconomics and takes the Fed’s responsibility to pursue full employment and financial stability with great seriousness. Her decisions have been generally guided by data and evidence, not ideology or partisanship. Jerome Powell correctly supported Yellen’s policy path as a Fed governor and has performed his job well. He is far superior to many other potential non-Yellen candidates mentioned in recent weeks. But this doesn’t change the simple fact that there is no reason at all why Yellen should have been replaced.
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