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Obama Names Janet Yellen to Head US Central Bank

U.S. President Barack Obama has nominated Janet Yellen, the current vice chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, to take over as head of the central bank.

The 67-year-old Yellen would replace Ben Bernanke, whose second term as head of the bank ends January 31. She faces a confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate, but supporters say they think she will win approval for a four-year term.

She would be the first woman to lead the central bank in its 100-year history.

Mr. Obama praised her as an economic visionary who saw troubled aspects of the U.S. economy before it fell into a steep recession five years ago. The president called her a consensus builder who "listens to competing views" about managing the world's largest economy.

In brief remarks at the White House, Yellen said "we can and must safeguard" the American economy. The nation's 7.3 percent unemployment rate is still high by historical standards, and Yellen pledged to "make sure everyone has an opportunity" to find work.

In speeches and public comments, she has said she favors the low interest rate policies that Bernanke has been using to try to cut unemployment and advance the sluggish U.S. economy. It is still struggling to fully escape the country's biggest downturn since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

She has been among Fed policy makers who have cut short-term interest rates to near zero, and approved a program to buy $85 billion per month of securities to pump more money into the economy. The Fed has been debating how soon and how quickly to end this stimulus effort.

Economists say if the support is withdrawn too quickly, the economy could lapse back into recession. If stimulus efforts go on for too long, however, they could spark inflation that could harm the economy.

Yellen previously was a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, head of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and a presidential adviser.

Mr. Obama's other candidate for the job, former Treasury secretary and presidential adviser Larry Summers, withdrew his name from consideration in the face of opposition from senators in President Obama's Democratic Party.

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