Ms. Yellen is the first woman to head the century-old Fed, and takes the helm at a time when the central bank is making a critical and delicate transition back to more normal interest rate policies after having massively stimulated the economy with near-zero rates and $4 trillion of unprecedented bond purchases since 2008.
The Fed, at the direction of Mr. Bernanke and Ms. Yellen, has already started to unwind its extraordinary measures. Under a schedule outlined by Mr. Bernanke, Ms. Yellen is expected to continue to withdraw Fed funding from the bond market throughout 2014.
Only a handful of Republicans voted for the nomination, though many of Ms. Yellen’s critics were quick to say she was well qualified to head the board. Ms. Yellen has years of experience not only on the Fed board but as president of the Fed’s San Francisco reserve bank and as a chief economic adviser to former President Bill Clinton.