Yellen Spouse Akerlof Resigns From UBS-Funded Center in Zurich

George Akerlof, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and the spouse of Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, resigned an unpaid advisory position with a University of Zurich center funded by UBS AG, saying he wants to avoid an appearance of conflict of interest.

“My service on this board is wholly academic in nature and is uncompensated,” Akerlof said today in an e-mail. “There is no actual conflict of interest. However, to avoid even the appearance of a conflict, I have stepped down from the academic advisory board.”

The university’s UBS International Center of Economics in Society removed Akerlof’s name from its website after a Wall Street Journal article quoted some experts as saying his unpaid advisory board seat may pose an appearance of conflicting interests.

Samuel Brandner, a UBS spokesman, said the Zurich-based firm is “not involved with the advisory board or the running of the center and, as such, have no comment.” Michelle Smith, a Fed Board spokeswoman in Washington, declined to comment.

Ernst Fehr, a professor of economics at the university and the center’s director, didn’t respond to an e-mail requesting comment.

Akerlof is a professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley and a visiting scholar at the International Monetary Fund in Washington.

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