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The most powerful woman in U.S. history

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U.S. President Barack Obama tapped Federal Reserve vice chair, Janet Yellen, as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, making her the most powerful woman in United States history.

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Well, almost.

Her nomination has to first be confirmed by the Senate. Even though the federal reserve is independent, it isn't completely independent. Confused? You're not alone in wondering how it works.

The Federal Reserve was created by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. In theory, Congress can take away some of its independence through legislation. And yet, Janet Yellen isn't subject to approval by anyone in the executive branch of the government. The Federal Reserve funds its own operations, so there are no strings attached to the congressional appropriations process.

According to some political scholars, the chairmanship power of the Fed can be compared to the power of a supreme court justice. It controls the money of the world's largest economy. The responsibility is enormous. A wrong word or decision can affect 300 million Americans and their livelihoods.

Besides being the most powerful woman in the U.S. when she takes over, Yellen is also the first woman ever to be in charge of the Federal Reserve.

Her resume is as impressive as expected: academic economist (University of California at Berkley), head of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers, Fed's Board of Governors in Washington, and vice president of the central bank (2010).

If her success with her own money is an indicator of how well she'll do with the nation's, the United States is in good hands. According to the New York Times, Yellen has investments worth $4.8 million.

Still, many wonder how she'll deal with the faltering economy and the rising debt.

And while she'll be the first female U.S. central bank chairman (if confirmed), she won't be the world's first. Russia and Malaysia currently have female central bank leaders.

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