A Look at the Most Powerful Women in Finance

The world of finance and economy isn’t the old boys club it used to be. Today, women are not only active participants in the markets, but key decision makers that influence everything from monetary policy to geopolitics. Below we look at five of the most powerful women in the world of finance.

Janet Yellen, Chair of the United States Federal Reserve

Janet Yellen was appointed to Chair of the Federal Reserve in 2014, making her the first woman to ever hold the post. The Fed Chair is widely regarded as the second-most powerful person in the United States, behind only the president. After years of quantitative easing and rock-bottom interest rates, Yellen is leading the Fed back toward policy normalization. But the process is expected to be slow as the US economy continues to contends with domestic and global headwinds.

Yellen will make headlines in November and December when she announces the Fed’s final policy decisions of the year. The markets are anticipating at least one rate increase before year-end.

Hillary Clinton, Democratic Presidential Nominee

Hillary Clinton is the first female major-party presidential candidate in US history,[1] which automatically makes her one of the most powerful people in the world of finance and economy. Clinton has already outlined her position on free trade, jobs and taxation, and has also talked about the role of the Federal Reserve. If she wins the White House on November 8, she will instantly become the most powerful woman in the world.

Clinton has also gone after the pharmaceutical industry for its apparent price gauging for prescription drugs. This could make for volatile trading conditions in the healthcare sector should Clinton succeed in her election bid next month.

Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Theresa May replaced David Cameron as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in July, as the Conservative party sought a fresh start following Britain’s shocking decision to leave the European Union. As leader one of the world’s biggest economies, Theresa May wields tremendous influence on economic policy, trade and geopolitics. May’s recent comments about pursuing a “hard Brexit” sent the British pound tumbling and triggered volatility in the global financial markets.

“Let me be clear: We are not leaving the European Union only to give up control of immigration again,” May said in a speech earlier this month. “We are going to be a fully independent, sovereign country—a country that is no longer part of a political union with supranational institutions that can override national parliaments and courts.”[2]

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

Another head of state makes our list of most powerful women in the world of finance. Angela Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany in 2005, where she influences everything from domestic policy to foreign affairs. As the leader of Europe’s largest economy, Merkel has tremendous sway in regional matters, especially as they pertain to the Eurozone. She recently came down hard on Italy and other Eurozone states over the issue of state aid for the region’s struggling banking sector.[3]

However, with Germany’s oldest bank also in dire need of assistance, Merkel may have to rein in her anti-bailout rhetoric. Deutsche Bank has been hemorrhaging money since the US Department of Justice fined it $14 billion last month for its role in the subprime mortgage crisis. Investors are now wondering what Merkel will do next.

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund

In 2011, Christine Lagarde was appointed Managing Director of the powerful International Monetary Fund, a global lending institution representing nearly 190 countries. Lagarde not only chairs the IMF’s executive board, she also oversees the Fund’s entire staff. The IMF is an enormously powerful institution. It not only structures credit programs for member countries, but also advises recipients on economic and policy issues.

Lagarde has become the face of the organization, and routinely comments on matters ranging from the Eurozone debt crisis to the global economy. There’s tremendous global opposition to the IMF, which makes Lagarde a key person of interest for market participants. If she is speaking, everyone will be listening.

[1] Emma Green (July 26, 2016). “’We Are Preparing to Shatter the Highest Glass Ceiling in Our Country’.” The Atlantic.

[2] Sam Bourgi (October 3, 2016). “S&P 500 Futures Decline on Brexit Risk.” Economic Calendar.

[3] Georgina Prodham (October 2, 2016). “Germany’s Merkel cannot afford to bail out Deutsche Bank: media.” Reuters.

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