Janet Yellen under consideration by Biden team for Treasury Secretary

Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is now in contention for Treasury secretary. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is under consideration to be President-elect Joe Biden's Treasury secretary, according to people familiar with the matter, joining other possible contenders.

Ms Yellen has withdrawn from at least one upcoming speaking engagement because she is now in contention for Treasury secretary, one of the people familiar with the matter said. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Mr Biden has promised to pick a diverse Cabinet, which means he could choose the first Black or female Treasury secretary in history.

His team is also eyeing Fed Governor Lael Brainard and former Fed Vice-Chair Roger Ferguson for the job, Bloomberg News reported in September.

Mr Biden is launching his transition efforts to shape the new administration, but he is still weeks away from making Cabinet nominations, his transition team said Friday (Nov 13).

He met earlier this week to discuss Cabinet nominations with close advisers, according to transition official Jen Psaki.

A spokesman for the Biden transition team said it was not making any new personnel decisions yet.

Since at least August, when Mr Biden accepted the Democratic nomination, Ms Yellen has been among a group of economists who have briefed Mr Biden on the state of the economy.

Ms Yellen, now a distinguished fellow in residence at the Brookings Institution, was appointed by President Barack Obama as the first woman to serve as Fed chair.

She held the job for one term before President Donald Trump appointed Mr Jerome Powell.

A Brookings spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment about Ms Yellen that was made after business hours.

The progressive wing of the Democratic party is likely to welcome Ms Yellen as Mr Biden's Treasury secretary due in part to her strong comments on how economic policy makers can address climate change.

Since stepping down as Fed chair, she has joined investment banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, and oil companies Exxon Mobil Corp, ConocoPhillips and Shell Oil Co, in urging policy makers to consider a tax on carbon-dioxide emissions.

"From the standpoint of an economist, the most efficient way to tackle climate change is to tax emissions - to create a disincentive to emit carbon dioxide," Ms Yellen said in 2018.

"It's the right solution to a problem, and it's collected in a way that is practical and feasible."

Mr Biden said in October that, if elected president, he would consider creating a special White House office led by a climate "czar" to coordinate efforts to fight global warming.

One plan he's weighing would give multiple agencies, including the Treasury Department, a role in addressing climate change.

Mr Laurence Meyer, whose term as a governor at the Fed overlapped with Ms Yellen's in the 1990s, said he expects she would do whatever is needed to help Mr Biden succeed.

"Janet doesn't campaign" for jobs "and she doesn't have to," Mr Meyer said. "She wants a successful Biden administration."

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