Yellen has excelled at big jobs - this will be the hardest one yet

Former Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen is set to become the US Treasury secretary amid a mess of an economy, a polarised political environment and a frayed global economic system. PHOTO: REUTERS

If confirmed by the Senate as Treasury secretary, Dr Janet Yellen will be among the most accomplished people to take over the big office at 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue in the 231-year history of the department.

Few people in any era have served at the highest levels of economic policymaking for as long, and with as much distinction. Among other things, she will be the first person to have been the chief White House economist and head of both the Treasury and the Federal Reserve.

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