US Senate names Janet Yellen as Fed Reserve chief

US Senate names Janet Yellen as Fed Reserve chief

The US Senate on Monday confirmed Janet Yellen as the new leader of the Federal Reserve, marking the first time a woman has headed the world's most powerful central bank. 

President Barack Obama's nominee earned bipartisan support in the bitterly divided chamber, but the 56-26 vote was still among the closest in the 100-year history of the institution. Several senators who supported Yellen, currently Fed vice-chair, arrived too late for the vote. 

Yellen, 67, will replace current chairman Ben Bernanke, who steps down on January 31 after eight years in the job, during which they dealt with the country's worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. 

Bernanke's successor's main task will be ensuring the US economy does not slip backwards at a time when other countries are beset by weakness. Especially crucial will be further pushing down the American jobless rate, which fell to 7 per cent in November, still significantly higher than Bernanke, Yellen and other Fed policymakers have deemed satisfactory. 

Obama cheered the Senate approval, saying Yellen would serve the central bank and the country well. 

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