Yellen drew outspoken support from Senate Democrats, a third of whom signed a letter this summer urging Obama to choose her. Last month, more than 350 economists signed a letter to Obama urging him to nominate Yellen. The letter argued that Yellen understands the relationship between interest-rate policy and economic growth, possesses a "nuanced understanding" of job markets and is inclined as a policymaker to consider all points of view.
If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen would be the first Democrat chosen to lead the Fed since Paul Volcker was picked by Jimmy Carter in 1979. Bernanke, who served for eight years, and his predecessor, Alan Greenspan, who did so for 18½ years, were Republicans. She would also be the first vice chair of the Fed to ascend to the chairmanship.
Yellen served as a Fed board member for three years in the 1990s before leaving to head the Council of Economic Advisers in the Clinton administration. She also served for six years as president of the Fed's regional bank in San Francisco before Obama chose her in 2010 for the No. 2 spot on the Fed's seven-member board in Washington.
In addition to helping devise the Fed's rate policies, she has been instrumental in carrying out another top priority of Bernanke's — making the Fed, an institution whose operations were long walled off from the public view, far more open and transparent. The Bernanke-led Fed did so through news conferences, clearer public communications and detailed guidance about the Fed's expectations for the economy and policymaking.
Yellen, like Bernanke, was a distinguished college economics professor before joining the Fed. She taught at the University of California at Berkeley from 1980 until 1994 when President Bill Clinton chose her to join the Fed's board in Washington. She served on the Fed's board of governors until February 1997, when Clinton chose her to lead the White House Council of Economic Advisers.