Janet Yellen is the first woman to be nominated to run the Fed in its 100 year history, but this is the Fed we’re talking about and even on Wall Street she didn’t get a ton of name recognition.
Those who knew of her, like attorney Rick Figaro, tipped their hat. “I think she’s a good nomination, it’s good to have a woman to motivate younger women so they can reach great heights,” he says.
But at the end of the day Wall Street is about the money.
“I’m sure she’ll fulfill her role -- be she a man or woman -- with great ability I don’t think sex matters in these things, frankly,” says Joe Hughes, a marine insurance underwriter. He, like many people on Wall Street, sees Yellen as the face of consistency. “I wouldn’t imagine that the overall tenor of the Fed’s approach to the economy would change very much at all actually. I think she’ll be a steady hand on the tiller.”
Most people I spoke to don’t see any daylight between Yellen and her predecessor Ben Bernanke.
“I actually don't think they're going to change policies much,” says Bradley Seelig, a foreign exchange trader. “What Bernanke’s done, we’re in it.”
Other Wall Streeters say markets will likely enjoy an extension of quantitative easing under Yellen. “It’s good for the markets,” says Joey Leon.
Now of course consistency isn’t a good thing if you don’t agree with what the Fed’s been doing -- printing money to buy securities to prop up the economy.
“She’s really a continuation of what we have now, which is a doomed policy,” says Pete Johnson. Ken Halberg, an asset manager, says her continuity would be good to weather the political instability in Washington, but further out, he has concerns. “If you throw so much money into the economy, your dollars and cents won’t be worth anything.”
For the record, Yellen has repeatedly said she would raise interest rates when necessary and the Fed has gone to great pains to say it would adjust its policy of quantitative easing, if unemployment dipped below 6.5 percent and other indicators improved.
However you look at it, as recruiter Joe Sullivan put it -- at least some part of the government is functioning right now. “That’s the one part of government that we’re right on! That’s the one part that ain't busted.”
For now, that is. Confirmation hearings haven’t started yet.