Yellen’s Legacy: Economic Progress but a Sense of a Job Unfinished

 In U.S.

yellen-office-alt-1.jpg

Janet Yellen in her office on Tuesday.
Lexey Swall for The New York Times

By most conventional measures, Janet L. Yellen’s four years as the nation’s top economic policymaker have been a success.

Unemployment fell steadily during her term, inflation stayed in check and the Fed began backing gradually away from the extraordinary steps it took in the wake of the financial crisis.

That wasn’t enough to save her job, however. President Trump nominated Jerome H. Powell to be chairman of the Federal Reserve, which means that Ms. Yellen will be the first person in nearly 40 years to serve no more than a single four-year term as head of the central bank.

Ms. Yellen, who was serving as the Fed’s vice chairwoman at the time of her appointment, was not the only person considered for the top job. President Barack Obama considered naming former Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers to the post. Once Mr. Obama did nominate her, Ms. Yellen was confirmed on an unusually partisan 56-26 vote in the Senate.

And once in office, Ms. Yellen continued to stir strong feelings. Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail accused the Fed under her leadership of imposing burdensome regulations on the financial industry — a complaint that may have contributed directly to Mr. Trump’s decision not to reappoint her.

Here is a closer look at Ms. Yellen’s complex legacy.

Unemployment and inflation are low, but to many the recovery is incomplete.

Since the late 1970s, the Fed has had a “dual mandate” of promoting maximum employment and stable prices. By one set of measures, Ms. Yellen’s tenure was a clear success on both counts: unemployment is at its lowest level since 2001. And the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation has generally stayed well below its 2 percent target.


FEB. 2014
(When Ms. Yellen took office)

SEPT. 2017
(Lowest level since 2001)

FEB. 2014
(When Ms. Yellen took office)

SEPT. 2017
(Lowest level since 2001)

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