- Outgoing Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen received an award for ‘ethics in government.’
- Her acceptance speech honored the life of the late Senator Paul Douglas, after whom the prize is named.
- She spoke about transparency, financial disclosure, and consumer protection.
Well played, Madam Chair.
Janet Yellen, who was not reappointed to the job of Federal Reserve Chair despite a commendable four-year term,
gave a speech last week which, let’s just say, reads an awful lot like a shot at the president.
In her remarks accepting the 2017 “Paul H. Douglas Award for Ethics in Government,” Yellen had a few choice words of praise for the late senator after whom the prize is named.
Here’s one comment that caught my eye.
“In 1939, Paul Douglas was one of the first public officials in America to publish a full accounting of his personal finances,” Yellen noted in her speech last week.
Another, on transparency:
“One of Paul Douglas’s most important achievements in public life was to promote ethics in government,” Yellen continued, describing how he came to public office in a deeply-corrupt Chicago political machine but was able to rise above taking bribes and corrupting his office through. “The key was transparency and communication.”
Oh and also there was this:
“After he was elected to the Senate, Douglas was a champion of consumer protection laws, including the 1968 Truth in Lending Act, and was a leading supporter of civil rights legislation.”
Now, to recap: Donald Trump has been widely criticised for deep financial and political conflicts of interest, ranging from nepotism throughout the administration to the president’s ongoing control of his own financial interests. He’s also promised to undo post-crisis financial reforms and has already reversed a rule that allowed consumers to sue financial firms as a group. There’s also, of course, there is the issue of his unseen tax returns.
Admittedly, I’m reading between the lines here. Yellen never said her speech was about Trump. As current chair of the world’s most powerful central bank, she couldn’t really take on a political topic directly.
The first woman to lead the US central bank in its over-100-year history. She will serve out her term and retire in February.
I can’t wait to hear what she has to say when she isn’t so restrained.
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