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Wed Jul 31, 2013, 11:20 AM

The Sexist Attacks on Janet Yellen Have to Stop

Guess what 'gravitas' is code for
MATTHEW O'BRIEN

A few weeks ago, Ezra Klein wrote about the "subtle, sexist whispering campaign" against Janet Yellen, but I didn't really believe it. (Hey, I'm a white guy). Yellen, the current Fed number two, is so obviously qualified and respected that I thought it was pretty much a given that she'd get nominated for Fed Chair. It's not. And it's getting harder not to think that doesn't have something to do with gender.

Here's the Cliffs Notes case for Yellen. She's been at the Fed for much of the past 20 years, and she's been on the right side of almost every debate during that time. She talked Alan Greenspan out of an ill-conceived zero percent inflation target in the mid-1990s, raised concerns about the housing bubble in the mid-2000s, and highlighted the danger of a credit crunch in 2007. Not only that, but the Wall Street Journal calculates that she has the best forecasting record of any Fed member going back to 2009. Oh, and she's been the architect of the Fed's unconventional policies.

But that isn't good enough for some reason. And that reason sounds pretty sexist. Indeed, as Klein notes, one of the criticisms he's heard of her is that she lacks a certain ... "gravitas" (or is it a Y chromosome?) to be Fed Chair. It's an interesting word choice that's come up again. Here's what Albert Hunt of Bloomberg View says he's heard about who Obama might pick to lead the Fed:

The president, according to people familiar with his thinking, believes Summers has the experience and expertise to succeed Ben Bernanke. No one doubts Yellen's credentials as an economist, but questions have been raised, mainly by those in the Summers camp, about whether she has the gravitas to manage a financial crisis.

I'm going to put this as politely as I know how: This is bullshit. Yes, there have been more absurd attacks on Yellen -- that she'd be a PC-pick or usher in the era a "gender-backed dollar," whatever that means -- but this is plenty absurd too. Offensively so. Look, Ben Bernanke was also a soft-spoken academic with no Wall Street experience before he became Fed Chair, but that didn't stop him managing the financial crisis about as well as anybody could have. (At least the actual panic, not the run-up to it). Did Bernanke, who hired a public speaking coach to help conquer his voice quaver, have gravitas? I don't know. That judgment probably depends on how much you like his beard.

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http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/07/the-sexist-attacks-on-janet-yellen-have-to-stop/278223/

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Reply The Sexist Attacks on Janet Yellen Have to Stop (Original post)
n2doc Jul 2013 OP
Egalitarian Thug Jul 2013 #1
daleanime Jul 2013 #2
frazzled Jul 2013 #3

Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jul 31, 2013, 11:26 AM

1. K&R I wish you title were true and that it did have to stop.

 

Unfortunately, I'm afraid that it doesn't.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jul 31, 2013, 11:38 AM

2. Actually, I think the problem is that she has been right too many times....

can't have that, might hurt profits.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jul 31, 2013, 11:40 AM

3. I haven't heard any of these charges against her

This seems sort of an inside-Washington cocktail chatter matter. I'm sure there are those lobbying behind the scenes for one or another of the male candidates behind closed doors, and I'm sure they would not fail to make these kinds of awful sexist remarks. Washington is a mean and ugly place. I'm sure equally mean and wrongheaded charges are being leveled against other potential candidates.

What I do know, publicly, is that a good chunk of the Democratic members of the Senate have expressly, and in writing, pretty much nixed the appointment of Summers. He won't be Fed Chair, because the administration does not want to nominate someone he's already been told would face an ugly fight and probable rejection. And some of that has to do with the rumor mill surrounding him, going back to the Clinton days, especially the suggestion that he's a really bad boss who doesn't have good people skills.

I'm sort of ignoring the chatter altogether. I personally hope Yellen is nominated, though I can't say I have any reason really for doing so other than she seems to be backed by the right people. I'm not all that smart about macro-economics and monetary policy at all, so any opinion I might form would be completely irrelevant. I leave this one to the experts.

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