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Former U.S. Fed Chair Yellen among those appearing at…

By Trevor Hunnicutt

WILMINGTON, Del., Aug 13 – Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is among those who appeared at a briefing advising U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on the economy, his campaign disclosed on Thursday.

Yellen, who ran the U.S. central bank from 2014 to 2018, appeared by video at the first joint economic briefing attended by both Biden and his new running mate, Senator Kamala Harris.

Harris joined the regular briefings that Biden takes on both the public health and economic consequences of the coronavirus crisis. Both sat at separate desks in a makeshift television studio installed in a hotel ballroom in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

Yellen, an academic who had specialized in labor economics, was appointed the first woman Fed chair by Democratic President Barack Obama. She placed an emphasis on unemployment but also raised interest rates as the U.S. economy recovered from the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

Trump replaced her with Jerome Powell, who had reversed course on interest rates by the time the economy began faltering under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is unclear what Yellen is telling Biden in private, but the former vice president has proposed broad changes at the Fed, including requiring them to regularly report on what they are doing to close economic gaps that exist along racial lines.

Biden said racial economic gaps were among the topics at Thursday’s briefing.

Yellen also told a House of Representatives subcommittee last month that “it would be a catastrophe” not to extend a federal unemployment insurance supplement that recently expired as congressional negotiations on coronavirus relief stalled. She cited the income support for people laid off, who she said are “disproportionately low-wage workers and minorities.”

She also dismissed criticism largely from Republicans that high unemployment insurance payouts are discouraging people from returning to work.

A spokesman for the Biden campaign did immediately respond to a request for comment. Representatives for the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank where Yellen now works, also did not comment.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by Heather Timmons; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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