The Senate voted 56-26 on Monday to confirm Janet Yellen as the new chair of the Federal Reserve.
The move will make Yellen the first woman to head the central bank. Yellen brings to the position nearly a decade of experience, having served as the vice chair of the Federal Reserve since 2010. Prior to that, she was president and CEO of the San Francisco Fed from 2004 to 2010. She also served as chair of the Council of Economic Advisors during the Clinton administration.
Yellen will take over for retiring Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who has been in office since 2006 and oversaw the bank's efforts during the financial crisis and the subsequent slow economic recovery. Yellen will likely oversee the tapering and eventual unwinding of the Federal Reserve's massive balance sheet, whose contents ballooned as a result of three rounds of quantitative easing. Those programs, in which the bank buys up massive amounts of treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, have been among the fed's key instruments in stimulating the economy in the post-recession era.
At its last meeting, the bank's Federal Open Market Committee decided to pull back on its latest round of easing, an open-ended monthly asset purchase program known as QE3. The committee agreed to taper its monthly buys from $85 billion to $75 billion.
Though some have criticized easing, saying the strategy could lead to inflation, Yellen has credited easing with boosting the economy.
The Fed's asset purchases "have made a meaningful contribution to economic growth and improving the outlook," Yellen told the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs during her November confirmation hearing.
For this reason, many analysts have predicted Yellen's policies will look like a continuation of Bernanke's. Indeed, Yellen has voiced support not only for Bernanke's unconventional stimulus, but she has also said she plans to carry on his efforts of improving Fed communication.
"Like the Chairman, I strongly believe that monetary policy is most effective when the public understands what the Fed is trying to do and how it plans to do it," she also said in her November testimony. "I have strongly supported [the central bank's] commitment to openness and transparency, and will continue to do so if I am confirmed and serve as chair."
The next FOMC meeting, Bernanke's last as chairman, will be at the end of January. Yellen's first meeting as chair will take place March 18 and 19, after which she will also give her first press conference as chair.