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The Book of the Week is “Yellen, The Trailblazing Economist Who Navigated an Era of Upheaval” by Jon Hilsenrath, published in 2022. This book’s name is deceptive. For, this volume contained as much information on certain aspects of major economic events in American history (but was far from comprehensive in doing so), as it did biographical information on Janet Yellen.
Born in 1946 in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, Yellen married an economist, and her son became an economist, too. She and her husband both had careers teaching, theorizing, publishing and politicking. The author presented a bare-bones, oversimplified theory developed in the 1980’s by Yellen and her husband regarding unemployment. It was unclear whether this was for the benefit of the reader. As should be well known, the economy of the United States is hugely complex, what with unions, illegal immigrants, globalization, automation, and many other confounding variables, not to mention political meddling in connection therewith.
The author did mention two majorly interesting factoids, though:
“Trump said he would shrink the budget deficit and eliminate debt, but instead the deficit expanded from $585 billion before he took office to $984 billion in 2019, and the debt soared by $3 trillion along the way.”
Thus far in American history, no economist except Yellen has served in the following high-level political positions: Fed chair, Treasury secretary and chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
Read the book to learn much more about how, through the decades, the changing times have forced economists to search for new theories (as the old ones have been discredited) to explain, with their seemingly authoritative (but actually uncertain) pronouncements– why they are taking specific actions.