The Senate confirmed Janet Yellen on Monday to be the next U.S. Treasury Department secretary, replacing Steven Mnuchin, and she isn't worried too much about inflation.
With a resounding 84-15 vote in the Senate, Yellen became the first woman to head the Treasury or the Federal Reserve. The vote amounts to a fifth confirmation for Yellen to a government leadership role.
In her new position, Yellen will run a Treasury Department that will oversee Biden’s ambitious $1.9 trillion stimulus program to battle coronavirus, which comes just months after the federal government closed out fiscal 2020 with a national debt approaching $28 trillion and a deficit exceeding $3 trillion.
“I think we need to look closely at how to encourage their use for legitimate activities while curtailing their use for malign and illegal activities. If confirmed, I intend to work closely with the Federal Reserve and the other federal banking and securities regulators on how to implement an effective regulatory framework for these and other fintech innovations,” said Yellen in a statement.
Last week, urged quick action on the virus relief package that would provide an additional $1,400 in payments to individuals making below $75,000 annually as well as providing expanded unemployment benefits, further aid for small businesses, support for cities and states to prevent layoffs, and broader support for vaccine production and distribution.
She first spoke about bitcoin publicly in February 2014, “The Fed doesn’t have authority to supervise or regulate bitcoin in any way,” then again in October 2015 while she was still in office at the Fed, “We do not interpret bitcoin’s popularity as having a relationship with the public’s view of the Federal Reserve’s conduct of monetary policy.”
In December 2017 she mentioned bitcoin again, “It is not a stable store of value and it doesn’t constitute legal tender. It is a highly speculative asset.” In October 2018 she surprisingly announced she bought bitcoin for the first time, but clarified she is still "not a fan," citing illicit transactions.
Her most clarifying comments on bitcoin come during discussions with reporters in December 2017, saying "the Fed doesn’t really play any regulatory role with respect to bitcoin other than assuring that banking organizations that we do supervise are attentive that they’re appropriately managing any interactions they have with participants in that market and appropriately monitoring anti-money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act responsibilities that they have.”
Yellen noted in her Senate confirmation hearing last week that the Fed should take advantage of interest rates being near zero and spend more on economic stimulus, rather than worry about inflation.