Yellen says public trust in Fed ethics is critical

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Tuesday that the Fed's effectiveness critically depends on the nation's confidence that the central bank is acting only in the public's interest.

Yellen said it is important for Fed officials to "demonstrate our ethical standards in ways that leave little room for doubt."

Yellen's remarks came at a ceremony where she and former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke were honored with this year's Paul H. Douglas Award for Ethics in Government, named for the late Illinois senator. Yellen and Bernanke were recognized for their efforts to increase transparency at the historically secretive Federal Reserve.

Yellen's comments were her first public remarks since President Donald Trump announced last week that he was by-passing her and nominating Fed board member Jerome Powell as the next Fed chairman.

Yellen did not mention her status at the Fed or the current state of the economy in her brief remarks. While her four-year term as Fed chairman ends on Feb. 3, her term as a Fed board member does not end until early 2024. Yellen has so far remained mum about whether she will stay on the seven-member board after her term as chairman ends.

In her remarks, Yellen noted that in addition to having a long and distinguished career in Congress, Douglas had early in his political career had established high ethical standards. She said in 1939 he became one of the first public officials in America to publish a full accounting of his personal finances.

"He believed that the public's trust was so fundamental to the effectiveness of government that such steps were appropriate," Yellen said. "As a senator, he continued to publish his finances and observed strict limits on the value of personal gifts he received from those seeking benefits from him as a public official."

Yellen said he campaigned for legislation that ultimately led to the widespread requirement of finnacial disclosure and limits on public officials accepting gifts.