The U.S. Senate begins its 2014 session today with a bang. At 3:00pm the 113th Congress is expected to make history by voting to confirm Janet Yellen as the first female Federal Reserve Chair in the institution’s 100-year history.
Yellen’s confirmation appears to be written in stone, but there may be a few surprises and bumps along the way. “It may be a close vote, with only 60 or 65 votes, and I think a lot of Republicans see it as a free vote against her but she will win and she will become chairman” says Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at Potomac Research Group.
Once Fed head, Yellen won’t have to diverge much from the path current-chair Ben Bernanke has set. “Bernanke has set it up quite nicely for her,” says Valliere.
“They’re quite close ideologically, they’re close friends and I think that it allows her the luxury of focusing on inflation…and I think she can keep policy very accommodative. They’ll taper but I don’t think there’s a chance of a rate hike for maybe another two years.”
Yellen, like Bernanke before her, won’t be a complacent Fed head. “She’s got sharp elbows and I think if she feels Congress is negligent she won’t be shy about saying that; she’ll be quite outspoken,” says Valliere.
The bottom line, says Valliere, is that the markets don’t need to worry about the transition from Bernanke to Yellen as rates will stay exceptionally low for the foreseeable future.
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- Janet Yellen
- Ben Bernanke
- 113th Congress