Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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Treasury Sec. Yellen Adds Signature to Currency She Helped Inflate

'To me, these notes represent the hard, ongoing work of the Treasury Department to strengthen our economy and advance our economic standing around the world...'

(Headline USA) For better or worse, faith in the U.S. dollar has often hinged in part on what Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says.

On Thursday, the focus will be on what she writes, as the government churns out its first currency bearing her signature.

Yellen’s signature on the new currency will appear alongside the name of U.S. Treasurer Lynn Malerba, the first Native American in the role. The bills are expected to be delivered to the Federal Reserve in December and will be in circulation next year.

“This is really not about me or Treasurer Malerba,” she said. “To me, these notes represent the hard, ongoing work of the Treasury Department to strengthen our economy and advance our economic standing around the world.”

Yellen loops her capital “J” and “Y,” with the rest of her name flowing in a haste that suggests handwriting might not have been her top priority in school.

Her stewardship of a disastrous economy during the Biden administration, including repeated efforts to gaslight over the inflationary conditions and the current recession, has also led some to wonder whether economics was a priority.

As the first woman to serve as Treasury secretary, Yellen’s success has been linked largely to identity politics rather than merit.

She has since admitted, reluctantly, that she underestimated the staying power of inflation, even though other common-sense economic forecasters saw it coming a mile away.

The failure is the culmination of an unremarkable tenure as one of the top officials in charge of setting the country’s financial policy, which included a span in which she presided over remarkable stagnation during the Obama administration in spite of near-zero interest rates for his entire presidency.

Although she made her reputation as a stoic chair of the Federal Reserve, she now finds herself at the forefront of far-flung, deeply controversial efforts to use economic levers to help finance Ukraine’s war with Russia, push a dramatic shift in the energy sector toward the climate-change agenda, and oversee plans to weaponize and nearly double in size the IRS.

That puts Yellen, someone seemingly unqualified to perform even basic functions as an economist, at the center of domestic and global politics, inviting new levels of pressure and second-guessing by friends and foes.

Even as Yellen planned to watch the fresh bills carrying her signature roll out at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing’s Western currency facility in Forth Worth, Texas, her celebratory remarks were to dwell on Biden administration’s political talking points, trying to justify the case for continuing the very same policies that have failed up to this point.

She maintains that recent federal-spending packages have positioned the U.S. “to capitalize on a wave of economic opportunities for the American people, including in communities often overlooked.”

As has been the case with many of Biden’s Cabinet officials, she occupies an increasingly politicized role in which Congress and foreign governments matter as much as the financial markets.

When Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., at a May congressional hearing told Yellen she was “harsh” for speaking about the positive economic impacts of abortion access for women, she replied, “This is not harsh, this is the truth.”

She also has challenged the view that havens for hidden cash lie outside the U.S., instead arguing that the U.S. has become the “best place” to hide illicitly obtained money.

Yellen generated some tension with the White House this year when she veered somewhat from Biden’s insistence that his $1.9 trillion in coronavirus aid package did not contribute to inflation. Republican lawmakers have drawn on analyses by major economists such as Harvard University’s Larry Summers to say that the sum was excessive and sparked inflation.

Yellen acknowledged on CNN in May that she had been “wrong then about the path that inflation would take.”

Biden said he had been apprised of the possible risks of inflation when putting together the relief package, but he told the Associated Press in an interview that “the idea that it caused inflation is bizarre.”

Yellen has also used her platform as a top government official to warn that despite women’s advancements in the workplace, a glass ceiling prevents many from advancing to the very top positions.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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