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What will be Janet Yellen's focus as she takes Fed's reins?

10:38 PM, Feb 1, 2014   |    comments
Janet Yellen smiles as she is introduced as being the first female to be nominated as Federal Reserve Board chair, prior to testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, AP)
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(CBS NEWS) - Janet Yellen took the reins of the Federal Reserve Saturday, succeeding Chairman Ben Bernanke and becoming the first woman to lead the central bank. CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger said on "CBS This Morning: Saturday" that Yellen shares Bernanke's approach to leading the Fed.

"They are like intellectual partners," said Schlesinger. "They were working together - she was the vice chair under Bernanke - since 2010. She helped craft the policies that are in place, and to some extent it's almost like Bernanke Version 2.0."

Schlesinger told Anthony Mason and Vinita Nair that Yellen will be focused on what policies the Fed will keep in place to foster employment while being careful about inflation.

Bernanke's legacy is "split," Schlesinger said, and won't be fully known for a few years after he led the Fed to take emergency measures that expanded the central bank's balance sheet to $4 trillion in the aftermath of the 2008 economic downturn.

"We understand it was because it was an emergency, but down the line people are very concerned that inflation will pop up and that a lot of markets are going to be dislocated, not unlike what we've seen in the last week in some of the emerging markets," said Schlesinger, "so Janet Yellen's real critical issue is 'how do I unwind these policies without disrupting the world markets' and 'how do I unwind these policies and not plunge the United States back into a recession.'"

Schlesinger also spoke about the stock markets' rough start to 2014.

"I always like to say the stock market is not the economy, right?" said Schlesinger. "The stock market is a vote on what investors believe companies are going to earn in the future."

She noted that first half of last year was marked by slow growth because taxes went up and government spending was curtailed but that the second half was strong and looked strong coming into the new year.

"That said, stocks were up 30 percent last year, people!" said Schlesinger. "Come on! So 4 or 5 percent drop in January? No freaking out, please. This is not a panic mode. Corrections are 10 percent. We're long overdue for a correction."

She thought the markets will eventually drop, but she wasn't sure when.

"That means keep that diversified portfolio," she said, "don't sell out just because you're scared and be very clear about when you need your money."

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