What an amazing acceptance speech today from Janet Yellen, new Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Bank (FRB). Janet is a woman I totally trust and respect immensely. The speech is amazing because her comments parallel many concepts I deeply believe in and also because I know Janet’s uncompromising follow-through on what she says she will do. In my experience watching her at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, Janet does not make idle promises.
Here is what she promised, with my comments:
1.” To help restore the health of the economy and promote a strong and stable financial system . . . guided by no interest other than the public’s interest.” As a former Portland Branch Board member, previous Vice Chair of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank Advisory Council on Small Business and Agriculture, and as a publicly licensed CPA, I know the importance of that oath. Serving and protecting the public interest is the foremost commitment for anyone in a public financial role, or when providing services relied upon by users of financial information. When people forget that oath, bad things happen.
2. “. . . to make the Federal Reserve more transparent and accountable.” As anyone knows who has read recent media stories about Janet’s role the last few years as a FRB Governor and, previously, with the White House Council of Economic Advisors, Janet is direct, open, and firm in her statements and positions. Then she follows through to make her word happen. That promise gladdens me immensely. I know, from my career experience as a CPA and management consultant, that transparency and accountability are the two most important factors in building trust. And trust is critical to public confidence and, therefore, to a healthy economy.
3. To stay focused on implementing “Congress’ plan for strengthening financial regulation, the Dodd-Frank Act, . . . as quickly and responsibly as possible and to verify that these reforms are meeting the goal of safeguarding the financial system.”
4. To do all that she can to continue the work of repairing the economy damaged by the financial crisis and to achieve the goals set by Congress when they first established the FRB: maximum employment and stable prices.
5. Finally, “. . . to never forget the individual lives, experiences and challenges that lie behind the statistics we use to gauge the health of the economy. . . When we make progress toward our goals, each job that is created lifts this burden for someone who is better equipped to be a good parent, build a stronger community, and to contribute to a more prosperous nation.” Janet is passionate about building a strong economy, always mindful of the public interest, and never forgets the individuals within it. I have heard words and seen actions that demonstrate her commitment over many years of observing her at the San Francisco FRB.