We are midway through our second course when Janet Yellen stops me in my tracks. “This is your interview,” she says politely, “but there is an area I would like to go into.” I cede the agenda and the economist plunges into a dissection of what she sees as worrying trends in America’s financial sector. She may be quietly spoken and unassuming in manner, but Yellen, I am reminded, is always firmly in control. Her four-year tenure as the most powerful person in global finance, which ended in February, bears that impression out. A canny tactician with a dry sense of humour, Yellen proved to be a highly effective chair of the US Federal Reserve, corralling an unruly body of outspoken central bankers into a smooth exit from the ultra-easy monetary policy of the crisis years. Former Fed vice-chair Stanley Fischer, who unsuccessfully attempted to push Yellen into a more aggressive sequence of interest rate rises, stressed her toughness shortly before he left the central bank. When someone g...

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