Looking at the news photos during the run up to the debt crisis cliff and the government shutdown last week told a somewhat sad story of disagreement and anguish. John Boehner looked like he hadn’t slept in weeks; Harry Reid had the appearance of the undertaker’s slow brother; Mitch McConnell looked like he swallowed a lemon; Ted Cruz looked bizarrely smug while everything he promoted crumbled around him; and Obama could only shake his head, bite his lip and loosen his collar, trying to convince us how hard he was working.
A little further back in the news pages were three of the world’s emerging leaders, all smiling and ready to keep tackling what needs to be done.
Janet Yellen, when confirmed by the Senate, will be the most qualified candidate to ever assume the chairmanship of the Federal Reserve.
As a deeply respected economist, she will bring two vital attributes to that role as a steward of our economy.
First, she represents continuity with the Fed’s current low-interest-rate policies to foster employment while controlling inflation. Those policies, which she has helped to create and sustain, have undeniably boosted the flagging economy.
Just as undeniably, they have generated some controversy and consternation. Ms. Yellen has expertly addressed those concerns, including the risks inherent in a prolonged low-interest-rate policy, through the most feared effect, inflation, which, as yet, is nowhere in sight.
She also has been realistic about the limits of the Fed’s efforts. Her grasp of the issues in all their complexity has given her the credibility to lead the Fed in deciding how long to continue monetary stimulus policies and how eventually to ease up and end them.
Second, she also represents a break from Mr. Obama’s circle of policy makers whose reputations were marred by their roles before or during the financial crisis.
Then there’s Angela Merkel, re-elected as German Chancellor. This is a proven leader who handled the debt crisis with grace while navigating growth expertly.
The leader’s opponents grumble, more out of jealousy than genuine opposition, and loyal supporters hail the leader as a hero. Meanwhile, unemployment is at an all-time low, and the leader’s nation is looking like its own island of prosperity, a beacon to a suffering continent.
Then we have Christine Legarde, Chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). She is a French lawyer who has been IMF’s Managing Director since July 2011. As Former French Finance Minister, she came to IMF to overcome the somewhat shameful actions of her predecessor Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Many were skeptical when 90 years ago the U.S. gave women the right to vote. In addition to achieving positions of world leadership and power outlined above, women:
- With half the U.S. population, out vote men in presidential elections by four to seven million.
- Have 55% of the wealth in this country compared to 45% from men.
This is obviously a pattern which needs to be exploited and encouraged to grow.
History has given us many other examples of successful women taking the reins of power. They include Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, Indira Ghandi, as well as many of the monarchs of Spain, England, Russia and Egypt.
They have all been on top one at a time, not like coming in clusters now.
Not to be outdone, I have seen the strength and power of women in my own life.
My mother, Esther, who started work at age 15 and walked the eight flights of stairs to her office because she was afraid of elevators. Later became head of the PTA and worked for many years as a bookkeeper.
My sister, Ina, who started college at age 16 and after a career as an outstanding copywriter became head of Public Relations for the Nassau County Consumer Affairs Department.
My wife, Gabriele, who is the preeminent expert witness in the apparel industry, as well as the most sought after professor at the Fashion Institute.
My daughter, Ellen, strongly independent, V.P. of Sales & Marketing at the L.A. Convention Center (new), and a really good friend to many.
Being shy and retiring, it’s been a challenge for me to be around such strong women; however, I’ve enjoyed trying to hold my own.