There are very few professional finance positions in the world that carry the power associated with being head of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, which is now under the direction of 67-year old Janet Yellen.
Janet Yellen has enjoyed a career as an economist and a banker since her graduation from Yale University in 1971 with a doctorate in economics. Yellen has been a professor at both Harvard University and California Berkeley before eventually becoming President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She began as a system economist upon leaving Berkeley. Although her academic career may have kept her under the radar early, she was well-known within the federal banking system, replacing former Chair Ben Bernanke with her 2014 appointment after being nominated by U.S. President Barrack Obama. Yellen had served as Vice Chair since Qctober 2010.
Federal Reserve System operations are generally shrouded in secrecy because of national security claims, but they wield power by controlling the money supply within the United States, which also includes maintaining the world reserve currency status of the U.S. dollar. OPEC has mandated since 1971 that all petroleum purchases must be made in U.S. dollars, meaning that all countries globally must first purchase dollars to purchase oil. This power alone is imposing for the global community and helps keep the U.S. dollar strong. In turn, investors can rely on the soundness of their investments with respect to value stability. The banking system essentially sets the umbrella for all banking in the United States.
In addition to making moves that strengthen the U.S. economy, the Federal Reserve also determines when interest rates will rise or fall for American banks. The banks of the United States function practically as one large banking entity with all chartered banks maintaining a membership with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. This power to control the U.S. fractional banking system touches every aspect of the American economy and is arguably the most powerful government agency within the federal government.
It is still unclear how long Yellen intends to stay at the helm of the Federal Reserve Board. The Federal Reserve Chair is appointed to a four-year term and can be approved for continuous unlimited terms. Former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan served in the capacity for twenty years before retiring. However, it is clear that Yellen will continue to be one of the most powerful individuals in the financial world for as long as she holds the position.
Although individual personal power in the finance industry is never age specific, many of the most powerful are in their 60s. Others holding significant financial power include:
Elizabeth Warren Massachusetts Senator on the Congressional Banking Subcommittee
Mario Draghi President of the European Central Bank
Elisse Walter Chairperson of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Haruhiko Kuroda Governor of the Bank of Japan
David J Rothschild President of N.M. Rothschild & Company
Ben Bernanke Former Chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board of Governors
If you believe others name might be included in this list, let us know.