AirTalk for August 1, 2013

Gender politics at the Federal Reserve?

CHINA-EU-ECB-ECONOMY

PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

US Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen speaks at a international monetary conference in Shanghai on June 3, 2013.

Replacing Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke is arguably the most important economic decision President Barack Obama is facing this year. Who can shape and shepherd a fragile recovery? And give jittery markets continuity of leadership?

One favored contender is Janet Yellen, currently the Fed's vice chairwoman. Her brilliance and likeability are major reasons. Her keen predictions were recently noted in analysis by The Wall Street Journal (Of the 14 Fed policy makers, Yellen proved to be most accurate forecaster).

Despite her laurels, recently a fellow Fed chair suggested the choice of Yellen may be driven by gender above all else. It's also been reported that a "whisper campaign" is focusing on her so-called female attributes of being "soft-spoken" and "passive." Those attributes are non-existent in Larry Summers, the other top contender for the position - known for his aggressive temperament. President Obama is said to favor Summers because he'll be able to keep inflation low and employment high and is said to have credibility across political aisles. As is the case with any job opening, top candidates will have pluses and minuses.

So what role should candidates' gender play? Is it high time to include more female leadership in the old boys' club of finance? Or is injecting gender a distraction, and, moreover, a disservice to Yellen's CV?

Guest:

Heidi Moore, Finance and Economics Editor for The Guardian


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