Thursday, October 10, 2013

How would you like to be remembered?

I knew that Janet Yellen would be nominated to the Fed Chair when I saw this (likely planted) article early in the week, which detailed her relationship with her husband, Nobel winning economist George Akerlof. The article showed the human side of Yellen and how Yellen and Akerloff's personal and professional relationship were intertwined with each other:
Yellen twice won a coveted Berkeley teaching award. And she and Akerlof, sometimes in partnership with others, collaborated on research that benefited from their different styles, colleagues said.

"George was less disciplined, more artistic and perhaps creative; Janet was more grounded, sensible, and a paragon of common sense," said Andrew K. Rose, who was hired by Yellen and now serves as associate dean of Berkeley's Haas School of Business. Rose collaborated with the couple on several papers, including a year of research on the East German economy.

Jim Adams, a University of Michigan economics professor who has known Yellen since 1973 and also did research with her, said her relationship with Akerlof shows "how mature they are that they can be so deeply in love as people who are so different from each other."
What caught my eye was how supportive Akerlof was of his wife in her career [emphasis added]:
Yellen returned to the Fed in 1994 with her appointment to the central bank's board, and Akerlof commuted between Washington and Berkeley, continuing to teach. When Yellen moved to the President Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers, Akerlof took leave.

He tended the household and helped raise their son, but his main support for Yellen while she was at the White House was "providing psychological support in the daily political storms," he wrote. Yellen maintained balance, friends say, with mothering and gourmet cooking.
I can recall that when I left Merrill Lynch in early 2007, I quoted Todd Harrison in my farewell email to friends and colleagues entitled "Cam really is leaving to spend more time with his family" (see Retirement: It's not just about money)
I'm not going to say that success is insignificant, we know that's not true, but I can tell you, from experience, that if you look for happiness in a bank account, you're missing the bigger trade.
The girl I married needs me, Mr. President*
I also remember being touched by the actions of John Danforth, who left the post of the US ambassador to the UN in order to take care of his sick wife. In his resignation letter, he wrote:
Forty-seven years ago, I married the girl of my dreams, and, at this point in my life, what is most important to me is to spend more time with her.
It's nice to see that even UN ambassadors, Nobel laureates and Fed Chairs aren't just focused on their career. Family and personal relationships matter too. Bravo!

How would you like to be remembered?

* Addendum: Added details about John Danforth's resignation.

Cam Hui is a portfolio manager at Qwest Investment Fund Management Ltd. (“Qwest”). The opinions and any recommendations expressed in the blog are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions and recommendations of Qwest. Qwest reviews Mr. Hui’s blog to ensure it is connected with Mr. Hui’s obligation to deal fairly, honestly and in good faith with the blog’s readers.”

None of the information or opinions expressed in this blog constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or other instrument. Nothing in this blog constitutes investment advice and any recommendations that may be contained herein have not been based upon a consideration of the investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific recipient. Any purchase or sale activity in any securities or other instrument should be based upon your own analysis and conclusions. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Either Qwest or I may hold or control long or short positions in the securities or instruments mentioned.

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