Sen. Charles E. Schumer said Wednesday that President Barack Obama should choose Janet Yellen to chair the Federal Reserve, making the New York Democrat one of the first more Wall Street-friendly members to join a growing chorus of progressive senators backing the current Fed vice chairwoman.
"Until a few days ago, I said I thought both Janet Yellen and Larry Summers would be a good Fed chair and I could support either one. Now that Summers has pulled out, I think the president should choose Yellen. She's an excellent choice," Schumer said at a news conference on the looming government shutdown. "One of the great ironies is, Summers was tagged with being a Wall Street guy, but actually, many people on Wall Street have preferred Yellen, not because of any views on deregulation, but because she's been so good at predicting where the markets would go. So I think the president should choose Yellen."
Summers had been widely considered as Obama's preference for the most important job in economics, but the former top economic adviser would have been a polarizing choice. A large group of Democratic senators publicly opposed Summers for his role in deregulating financial markets in the 1990s. Women's groups backed Yellen because she would be the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve and because of Summers' comments when he was Harvard president that women had less natural aptitude for math and science.
Obama, known for keeping his close advisers close, appears to be less comfortable with Yellen, with whom he has a weaker personal relationship than he does with Summers. But Yellen, who is close to current chairman Ben S. Bernanke, has been widely praised as the right pick for the job, securing endorsements from The New York Times and former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Alan Blinder in The Wall Street Journal, among others.