|By BINYAMIN APPELBAUM and ANNIE LOWREY|
Ms. Yellen’s chief rival for Mr. Bernanke’s job,
The choice of a Fed chair is perhaps the single most important economic policy decision that
Ms. Yellen’s selection would be a vote for continuity: she is an architect of the Fed’s stimulus campaign and shares with
But the choice also is roiling
“Are we moving forward? It’s hard to see it,” said Ms. Romer, herself a late addition to Mr. Obama’s original economic team, chosen partly because the president wanted a woman.
She said she viewed the choice of the next leader of the Fed as a test of the administration’s commitment to inclusiveness. “Within the administration there have been many successful women,” she said. “There are lots of areas where women are front and center, where women are succeeding and doing very well. Economic policy is one where they’re not.”
Ms. Yellen was widely seen as the front-runner to succeed
“It would be great to have a woman, the first woman chairman of the Fed, no question about it,” Representative
Ms. Pelosi said that she also thought
On Thursday, Senate Democrats were rallying support for Ms. Yellen, with about a third of the 54 members of the caucus signing a letter backing her candidacy.
The letter is being circulated by Senator
Mr. Summers’s supporters are making less noise in public, partly because some of his primary advocates are inside the
Ms. Yellen declined to comment through a Fed spokeswoman.
It also suggests that the administration has not tried to groom Ms. Yellen for a promotion.
Women have held a number of top economic policy positions within the administration during Mr. Obama’s tenure. In addition to Ms. Romer,
Neera Tanden, president of the
For years, economic policy making has been dominated by a small, close-knit group of men who have known one another since the Clinton administration, if not before. In addition to
Numerous current and former administration officials have described the world as cloistered. A series of women who have worked alongside those men have ended their tenures saying that they felt excluded and ignored. Recent examples include
“I was always officially where I should be,” Ms. Romer said of her
Similarly, Ms. Yellen clashed with
Several former administration officials, who spoke about personnel policy only on the condition of anonymity, strongly disputed the idea that the
But they acknowledged that women on the economic team had tended to hold advisory roles, rather than policy-making roles. They also said that women tended to be further to the left than the more centrist Rubinites that have generally prevailed in policy debates.
Along with the Rubinite network of men, women in the Democratic economic policy world have created an informal network of their own over the last 20 years. Ms. Tyson, Ms. Romer and Ms. Yellen are especially close, calling one another for advice on navigating the world of
Ms. Tyson recommended Ms. Yellen for an open seat on the Fed’s seven-member board of governors, which oversees regulatory policy and sets monetary policy in consultation with the presidents of the 12 regional reserve banks.
She also helped to start the career of Ms. Brainard, now the Treasury under secretary for international affairs, by battling for permission to break the rules by extending Ms. Brainard’s
Ms. Romer, for her part, helped put
The debate about the role of gender has spilled out well beyond the
Her supporters counter that being a women appears to be hurting her chances.
But concerns about gender would not be determinative in the White House’s mind, officials with knowledge of the process said. The president’s comfort with the candidate, concerns about how well he or she would manage the Fed’s powerful Open Market Committee and deal with the market and
“It’s an embarrassment of riches,” said
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