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Janet Yellen's Resume Makes Us All Feel Like 'Slackers'


This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. In a few minutes, we will talk about people and their attachment to the land in two very different places in the United States, and how that attachment to the land may be threatened.

But first, the pick is in from the White House about who will replace Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve. And the new chair will be a woman, if she is confirmed. That would be a first in this country's history. NPR senior business editor Marilyn Geewax stayed with us to tell us more. Thank you so much for staying with us. So Janet Yellen is the White House pick as Fed chief. Why is this important?

MARILYN GEEWAX, BYLINE: Well, there are a lot of big decisions that are facing the Federal Reserve. You know, for years now, because of the financial crisis we faced five years ago, the Federal Reserve has been driving down interest rates, and that's important to all of us. If you have gone to buy a house, buy a car, interest rates are a big part of your life and you really care about that. And so if we changed that policy, if we start going towards somewhat higher interest rates, whether you're a realtor or a car dealer, no matter what kind of line of work you're in, you're watching those interest rates. And she's going to be given this task of slowly boosting those interest rates and doing it in a way that is gentle, gradual, predictable, and yet moving back to more historically normal levels of interest rates, so that the world can get back to be being a more normal place.

MARTIN: So Janet Yellen would become - she's 67-years-old - she would become the first woman Fed chief in its 100-year history. She'd also be the first Democrat in the position since Paul Volker left the Fed in 1987. Do you have any sense of how she will be received? How this election will be received?

GEEWAX: Well, she's really, really respected. I mean, if you ever want to make yourself feel like a slacker, spend some time with Janet Yellen's resume. You will just, like, oh, boy. Boy, I have not accomplished much compared with this woman. She just has a fantastic education. You know, she got a PhD in economics from Yale in 1971. Now imagine, there weren't that many women at Yale in general in 1971, let alone a PhD in economics.

She goes on to have this brilliant career. You know, she's been a teacher at Harvard, at Berkeley, but she's also has had tons of Fed experience. She's been on the Federal Reserve. She's a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She was in the White House. She just has this perfect gold-plated resume. So people like her. She's a known quantity. She's already the vice chairwoman. So she's really - I think will be a pretty easy person to accept.

MARTIN: Very briefly, Marilyn. We already talked a little bit about the IMF and the World Bank meeting in Washington, D.C. You say those people already have a message for Janet Yellen, what is it?

GEEWAX: Well, they said - they put out this report saying that if she makes any mistakes when she's going to change those interest rates, that a timing mistake might cost the world 2.3 trillion dollars just in the global bond markets. So no pressure there.

MARTIN: No pressure. No pressure.

GEEWAX: First day on the job. You know, so she's got to come into this job. She knows what she's getting into, but boy, it's a tough job and the whole world's watching. She'll have an awful lot of pressure on her.

MARTIN: Marilyn Geewax is senior business editor for NPR, with us once again in our Washington, D.C. studios. Marilyn, thanks so much for joining us once again.

GEEWAX: Oh, you're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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