Biden, Harris turn to former Fed head Janet Yellen for economic guidance

Yellen served as Federal Reserve chair from 2014 to 2018

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris have turned to a slew of economic experts for advice on the coronavirus-induced recession — including Janet Yellen, the former head of the Federal Reserve.

In mid-August, shortly after he tapped Harris as his vice president, the two candidates met with two of the former president's economic advisers -- Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey -- as well as Harvard economics professor Raj Chetty, University of Michigan professor in the Department of Economics and International Relations Lisa Cook, and Jae Sullivan, Biden's senior policy adviser.

Only Bernstein and Boushey are official advisers to the Biden-Harris campaign, according to The Hill; other attendees, including Yellen, were there to brief the candidate.


In a briefing with reporters, Biden did not elaborate on his meeting with the economist.

But Yellen's presence at the meeting was noteworthy because Federal Reserve chairs typically try to avoid partisan politics, even after they're no longer chair, to preserve the independence of the central bank.

However, she's far from the first former Fed chair to wade into the electoral fray. Paul Volcker, who led the bank from 1979 until 1987, served on an advisory committee for Barack Obama when he ran for president in 2008.


Yellen currently sits on California's economic recovery task force and has spoken with House representatives via telephone about fiscal stimulus plans to offset the finanical pain of the virus outbreak.

The first woman to lead the U.S. central bank, Yellen began her first four-year term in 2014 after she was appointed by former President Barack Obama, guiding the economy on its path to recovery from the 2008 financial crisis.

Under her tenure, unemployment fell to 4.1 percent -- a decline of 2.6 percentage points from when she first started -- and inflation remained below 2 percent. A resounding majority of economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal in 2017 gave her positive reviews, with 60 percent saying she deserved an "A" on her performance. Thirty percent gave her a "B."


She is the first Fed chair not to be reappointed after serving a first full term.

Biden has proposed a $400 billion, four-year increase in government purchases of U.S.-based goods, on top of $300 billion in new research and development in U.S. technology, as part of his recovery plan for the U.S.

The introduction of Biden's "Buy American" plan in July was an implicit attack against Trump amid the coronavirus pandemic. The former vice president said the proposal was intended to reduce American reliance on foreign countries after the virus-induced crisis exposed the vulnerabilities lurking in the global supply chain.

The pandemic has triggered the worst economic downturn in the U.S. since the Great Depression. Some 57 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since mid-March. So far, the economy has so far added back less than half – about 42 percent – of the 22 million jobs it lost during the pandemic.

At the same time, between 30 million to 40 million Americans are at risk of eviction over the next several months – a result of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent economic recession, according to a recent report by the Aspen Institute.

"Our economy is in tatters, with Black, Latino, Asian-American, and Native American communities bearing the brunt of it. And after all this time, the president still does not have a plan," Biden said Thursday during the fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention, during which he accepted the presidential nomination.

"Well, I do," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report