As Fed Chair Janet Yellen fielded questions from the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday on a range of complicated topics, from market valuations to regulatory relief to lending practices, the one question Ms. Yellen couldn’t answer was whether she would remain at her post as head of the Fed for another term.
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Yellen artfully dodged queries from at least three lawmakers Wednesday about where she would — and whether she would like to — serve as Fed chair for another term if renominated by the current administration.
Here’s a look at what Yellen did, and didn’t say, about her future at the central bank.
She hasn’t thought about it
The first question about the future leadership of the Fed came from Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who cited multiple instances where presidents renominated Fed chairs — think Paul Volcker under President Ronald Reagan, Alan Greenspan under President Bill Clinton and Ben Bernanke under President Obama. When asked whether Yellen was “open to serving another four years” if renominated by President Donald Trump, Yellen said “I absolutely intend to serve out my term. I'm very focused on trying to achieve our Congressionally mandated objectives, and I really haven't had to give further thought at this point to this question.”
She hasn’t talked about it
Yellen’s second strike came from Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), who asked the Fed chair point blank if she was “seeking another term”.
“I’ve not said anything about that. I intend to serve out my term,” Yellen said.
Duffy also shot back at previous claims made by other members of the committee that the Fed was responsible for accelerated economic growth and job creation throughout recent months, crediting that feat instead to President Trump and his policy agenda.
It hasn’t come up
Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) approached Yellen’s tenure from a different angle, asking her if President Trump were to call her after the hearing Wednesday requesting she serve another term, would she commit?
“It’s something that hasn’t been an issue so far, it’s not been something that’s come up. But I would certainly, it’s something I would discuss with the president, obviously,” Yellen said, indicating she has not yet had a conversation with President Trump about her future at the central bank.
Yellen’s tenure will be up in February and President Trump was very critical of her and the Fed’s monetary policy decisions throughout the campaign. Early in the campaign he called her a “very political person” who maintained an accommodative monetary policy in order to boost the economy under President Obama. He also said in the spring of 2016 that he would “likely replace her.”
However, President Trump appeared to have softened his view of Yellen earlier this year, saying he wouldn’t necessarily get rid of her during an interview with The Wall Street Journal in April.
Still, recent rumors indicate the Fed chair could be on her way out in just a matter of months. On Tuesday, a report from Politico surfaced alleging Trump will most likely replace Yellen; the lead candidate to assume her role is National Economic Director Gary Cohn.