BUZ LIVINGSTON: Signs of intelligent life in D.C.

Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 03:27 PM.

Before making it to DVD (and before DVDs), we liked Lily Tomlin’s Tony Award winning “The Search for the Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe.” The play was better in San Francisco Curran’s Theater than Atlanta ’s Fox Theater but maybe it was the Bay Area’s ambiance.  

Washington , D.C. ’s wrangling had me wondering about intelligent life there. But things do look a bit better.

Janet Yellen, President Obama’s mutual funds. With a smattering of Fidelity funds augmenting Vanguard, one thing is certain, she’s no sucker. 

Many preferred, astonishingly enough, Wall Street insider Larry Summer over Dr. Yellen. In the 90s, Summers ignored Brooksley Born’s repeated warnings regarding dangers lurking in financial derivatives — because girls know nothing about finance. In 2005, just before the housing market collapse, economist Raghuram Rajan warned excessive risk-taking by banks would lead to a major financial crisis. While Summers harshly dismissed those concerns, Dr. Yellen spoke out on the perils lurking in the financial industry.

Given our culture, many will cast scorn Yellen’s way. Here’s a novel idea; let’s put America first. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis of more than 700 economists, Yellen’s predictions were the most accurate. Yale Professor and Nobel Award winner Robert Shiller called Yellen “a real mensch” who has integrity and humanity plus the ability to make good policies happen. Many will complain she lacks inflation busting cred but her record belies those accusations. In the '90s she pressed Alan Greenspan to adopt a formal inflation target — certainly not the position of an inflation dove. 

Maybe the South Walton building renaissance is a sign of an economy on the mend. Dr. Yellen understands raising interest rates is a “blunt instrument” to prevent asset bubbles. Jacking up mortgage rates will negatively affect local real estate sales.

Dr. Yellen had me from hello. When a client walks in the door with long held Vanguard mutual fund positions they simply understand how markets work. Statistically women are better investors than men and may make a better Fed Chair.  Our granddaughter or yours could be Fed Chair one day, too.



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