Yellen Begins Meeting Senators on Nomination to Head Fed

Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen began meeting with senators two weeks before a hearing on her nomination to lead the central bank, starting with a top Republican and a top Democrat on the banking panel.

“We had a nice meeting, a courteous meeting,” Republican Senator Richard Shelby said after talking with Yellen today, specifically saying he asked “a lot of questions about the role of the Fed.”

Shelby, the panel’s No. 2 Republican, said he didn’t commit to supporting her nomination.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson in a statement after his meeting with Yellen pledged to move her nomination “quickly” and said he would vote for confirmation.

“She has a keen understanding of how the Federal Reserve’s work impacts every American” Johnson said.

Yellen’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee is scheduled for Nov. 14. The comments from Shelby of Alabama may be a preview of how Yellen, 67, fares with other Senate Republicans.

President Barack Obama nominated Yellen on Oct. 9 to succeed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, whose term expires Jan. 31. Yellen must be approved by the committee before the nomination would advance to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.

Paul’s Hold

Democrats -- including Yellen supporters Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jeff Merkley of Oregon -- have 12 members on the committee with 10 Republican members.

Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who vowed to hold up the nomination in order to get a vote on legislation that would require a public audit of the Fed, said today Yellen will be confirmed.

Asked if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had the votes for confirmation, Paul said, “in all likelihood, yes.”

“Even if I stand on the floor and filibuster in a personal fashion, I can only hold it there for two days,” Paul said today in an interview for Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” airing this weekend. “But I want to draw attention to the fact that Audit the Fed has been held hostage by Senator Reid for three years.”

Paul’s measure would require a complete audit of the U.S. central bank, including its decision-making about monetary policy.

Audit Sought

“Apparently Janet Yellen’s been in favor of transparency at the Fed,” Paul said. “That’s all we’re asking for is an open audit a year after the fact.”

Members of the banking committee are reviewing Yellen’s nomination paperwork, including financial disclosures. A copy of those disclosures, obtained through the Office of Government Ethics, shows finances that are little changed from the annual disclosure she made as Fed vice chairman.

Yellen and her husband, George Akerlof, the Nobel-winning economist who was her colleague at the University of California at Berkeley, have assets valued at $4.8 million to $13.3 million. The assets are reported in a range, making a precise evaluation of their net worth impossible.

Their largest investment, valued at $1 million to $5 million, is in a Vanguard fund that tracks the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, according to the documents dates Sept. 24.

They have three accounts valued from $500,000 to $1 million: two bond funds and an international stock fund. They also receive royalties from academic publishers tied to Princeton University, Cambridge University and Oxford University for their published work.

Yellen and her husband are eligible for about $23,000 a month in pension income from Berkeley, where she holds the title of professor emeritus. In a letter accompanying her disclosure, Yellen said she wouldn’t provide services to the university during her tenure at the Fed.

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