Janet Yellen’s term as chair of the Federal Reserve may have ended at the beginning of February, but her leadership as the first woman to lead the central bank, will always be a part of monetary policy history.
Yellen had a successful tenure as chair according to some of the ways Fed success and the economy is measured. Unemployment, under Yellen’s tenure, saw the largest decline under any Fed chair’s term since WWII, dropping 2.6 percentage points. By her departure, inflation was low, but not too low. And the stock market was hitting record highs.
In addition, a majority of economists gave her an A grade in a Wall Street Journal survey at the end of her term. Beyond the Fed’s low unemployment mandate, other job market indicators, like job openings and underemployment (people in part-time jobs that want a full-time job), have also improved.
Even though Yellen is no longer Fed chair, she’ll likely continue to make headlines in her new role at the Brookings Institute, joining her predecessor Ben Bernanke at the think tank.
In honor of International Women’s Day March 8, we’ve compiled a not-so definitive list of woman leaders, like Yellen, who are impacting monetary policy.
Elvira Nabiullina – Russia
As head of Russia’s Central Bank, Elvira Nabiullina is considered one of the most powerful women in Russia. Vladimir Putin has applauded her leadership of the bank. After all, she was an economic advisor for him from 2000 to 2013, when she was first appointed to the central bank role. Putin then nominated her for a five-year term in 2017.
Under her leadership, Nabiullina has cleaned up Russia’s banking sector, leading to the closure of dozens of corrupt banks. She most recently said the central bank will continue to go after “bad banks”.
Lael Brainard – United States
Lael Brainard has been a member of the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve System since June 2014, previously serving as Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Treasury.
During her tenure she has been known as a voice for holding off on rate hikes due to slow growth. This week, however, Brainard suggested that the economic growth tailwinds could speed up the need for monetary policy tightening. Her change to a more optimistic tone caught the attention of the markets.
Karnit Flug – Israel
Karnit Flug is the Governor of the Bank of Israel. Flug has served in that role since 2013 and previously was acting Governor.
Most recently under her governance, the BoI has required Israel’s top banks to sell their credit card companies by 2020 to increase competition. If they are listed on the stock exchange, they must reduce their ownership to under 40%. The Bank of Israel has left interest rates unchanged for the past three years at 0.1%.
Loretta Mester – United States
As president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Loretta Mester is known as one of the more hawkish members of the FOMC.
In February it was reported that the White House was considering nominating Mester for Fed Vice Chair, but since then other names have been thrown around. Despite possibly being overlooked for this post, when Mester talks the markets listen. She has previously said that rates should be hiked three to four times this year and next.
Christine Lagarde – France, IMF
As managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde is known as a hard negotiator and charismatic speaker. She is the first woman to hold the IMF role and was also the first female French finance minister.
Lagarde is making headlines this week as she warns against a trade war, saying that no one wins. The Trump administration has been announcing protectionist tariff measures over the past week, causing a stir in the global trade community. Trump has also tweeted that trade wars are easy to win.
Angela Merkel – Germany
While Angela Merkel doesn’t hold a specific economic or monetary policy position, her influence as German Chancellor on the currency markets is something to take heed of.
Earlier this year, Merkel spoke out against nationalism when members of the Trump administration made comments in Davos supporting a weaker dollar. Merkel’s success to come to an agreement with the Social Democratic Party to form a coalition government also ticked the euro upward. Results of the SPD vote could also move the currency.
Theresa May – United Kingdom
Another women who is not directly in a monetary role, but whose comments on Brexit might as well be considered the indicator of the direction of the pound, is U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May.
When the UK voted to leave the EU in June 2016, Theresa May took the helm, winning the leadership election in July of that year. In the past few months, the pound has been pressured by the Brexit negotiations between the U.K. and the E.U. May is at the forefront of the political uncertainty driving the currency.
Rosmaya Hadi – Indonesia
Rosmaya Hadi has been Deputy Governor of the Bank of Indonesia since 2016. She is the highest-ranking female official.
During her time previously running the central bank’s West Java region, she enlisted the help of religious leaders to spread the message of moderation for the bank. Local leaders at mosques were able to help control spending, and ultimately inflation, during a religious holiday when buying large amounts of food is usually the norm.
Hadi’s unique approach and her pledge to get more women involved in the economy makes her an influential leader in monetary policy.
These women have risen to the top of their ranks in monetary policy, but there are many others who are having an impact on the global economy every day. There’s no doubt that women have made powerful contributions to the world economy, and we at WorldFirst are proud to honor their achievements.