After receiving emergency medical attention, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has returned to Washington. She insists it was merely dehydration.
While giving a speech that lasted for nearly an hour at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Yellen, 69, appeared to lose her concentration and struggled to finish. She was given medical assistance by the university’s emergency team in a private room before attending a dinner with the university’s chancellor and other important guests.
Yet many are not convinced by Yellen’s assurances. Arguably, Janet Yellen is the most powerful person in world finance. This health scare comes at a time when the eyes of the world are focused on the US Fed as it is about to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade.
“If you ask me, is it concerning, I think it is concerning,” said Dr. Andrew Stemer of Georgetown University School of Medicine.
Nonetheless, the doctor urges caution against speculation. Nothing can be diagnoised with the proper examinations.
“I want to be cautious about speculating on things that I can’t know,” said Dr. Stemer. “I’m sure she’s getting excellent care and that her physicians are working this up.”
In the event that something is medical wrong with Yellen, the Fed will continue to carry on its essential functions, including raising interest rates.
The Fed “has a lot of talented people so we would be able to carry on very well if there were serious problems,” said James Bullard, President of the St. Louis Fed. “This was reviewed very carefully after 9/11 and we started getting better as an organization and we reviewed that thoroughly and those plans are basically in place.”
In the event that a Fed chair could not perform her or his necessary functions, the vice chair- currently Stanley Fischer, former chief of the Bank of Israel- would be put in charge of the Board of Governors.
“It might be a little nerve-wracking for financial markets if that were to occur, but I think the fact that Fischer is well-known and well-respected could limit how much volatility a succession event would cause,” said Michael Feroli, JPMorgan’s chief U.S. economist. “Yellen and Fischer have been reared in the same intellectual tradition, so the differences in leadership should not be too large.”
An announcement about a rate hike was supposed to be made last week but was delayed.