While following up on whether we are going to take away Assad's chemical weapons is certainly more exciting than following what is happening at the Federal Reserve, it merits mention that Ben Bernanke's term as the leader of the Fed is up on Jan. 31.
Although that may seem like a future issue, fervent discussion has already begun about who will take over and what consequences his or her selection will have, both politically and financially.
Additionally, up to nine members of the policy-making committee may leave within the next year. With this many changes occurring in such a short period of time, the future of Federal Reserve policies is fairly uncertain.
As the central banking system of the United States, the policies and regulations of the Fed have direct effect on the everyday lives of Americans. The Federal Reserve oversees monetary policy in the U.S. and is assigned with maximizing job creation and stabilizing prices.
Given how different economic policy can be, choosing a chairperson for this organization can be heavily influenced by the current political climate. The Fed is subject to congressional oversight and the chairperson must be confirmed by the Senate, so tons of different factors can come into play.
Up until this week, the two most likely candidates for the position have been Larry Summers, a former secretary of the Treasury and former president of Harvard University, and Janet Yellen, the current vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board.
Although both candidates are incredibly qualified and come touting impressive resumes, experience is hardly the only thing that matters when the position in question is so important.
Even the smallest comments from the chairperson can have great influence on our market, and Summers tends to have the propensity to spurt off and offend people at the drop of a hat. Needless to say, I was relieved when he announced he would no longer compete for the candidacy of Chairman of the Board.
His potential chairmanship was fairly controversial and exposed some dissent within the Democratic party. Several Democratic members of Congress opposed Obama's choice and expressed that they would not confirm Summers. Some even went so far to say that his appointment process would be a "nightmare."
Despite being slated early on as one of Obama's favorite choices, several key players in the Democratic party have essentially told him not to bother. Summers continues to face backlash from several controversies, and his comments about women working in science and engineering have haunted him; in 2005 Summers stated that the reason for the lack of female representation in those fields could be related to " a different availability of aptitude at the high end."
How ironic that he is now being passed over for a woman.
While Larry Summers may be an incredibly intelligent individual with a flair for manipulating important people, he is both abrasive and egotistical. Not only was Summers a key player in repealing Glass-Steagall, a Great Depression-era law that separated the funds for commercial and investment banking, but he also has a reputation for being a little too buddy-buddy with Wall Street.
Representatives on both sides of the aisle have expressed disdain for Summers; Republican Sen. Pat Roberts stated that he wouldn't want Summers to "mow his yard." In a political climate where Republicans and Democrats have trouble agreeing on just about everything, it says quite a bit that at least some representatives from both sides feel Summers would be a volatile choice.
If Janet Yellen becomes the first female Chairperson of the Federal Reserve Board, it will represent a key crack in the glass ceiling. Summers was right to withdraw his name from the race, not only because he has a horrible temperament and people do not like him, but because he was really only in the running because of his relationship with President Obama.
For Yellen to be passed over for Summers would have been absolutely shameful. I am confident that she has enough "aptitude on the high end" to be an efficient, tactful leader of the Fed.
Katie Dean is a junior in political science. She can be reached at email@example.com.