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Time economics columnist Rana Foroohar had heard that Janet Yellen was the best-prepared participant at Federal Reserve Board meetings. But even Rana was surprised that Yellen’s penchant for gathering intelligence somehow included knowing where Rana had spent her Christmas vacation. “Talk about soft power,” Rana says. In her very first interview as Fed chair, Yellen spoke as convincingly about income inequality and unemployment as she did about the immense but more abstract challenge of managing the nation’s $10.9 trillion money supply. Her job, Yellen told Rana in her office at the Fed in Washington, involves far more than merely managing inflation and monitoring the banks: “It’s about trying to help ordinary households get back on their feet and about creating a labor market where people can feel secure and work and get ahead.”
On Yellen’s nightstand is Mark Leibovich’s lively, lethal portrait of Washington’s fever swamps, This Town, which reads as a cautionary tale for anyone navigating the streams of power.