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TFK Sits Down with Janet Yellen

LET'S TALK TFK Kid Reporter David Murtagh meets with Secretary Yellen at the Treasury Building, in Washington, D.C., on November 17. ALLISON SINGER

Janet Yellen is the 78th United States secretary of the treasury. TFK Kid Reporter David Murtagh interviewed her in Washington, D.C.

1. Could you explain what the U.S. Treasury does?

The Treasury department is concerned with making sure that the U.S. economy does well and that our financial system works.

2. What is inflation?

Inflation is the rate at which the prices of goods and services rise over a year. For a long time, inflation was low. The pandemic changed that. The [high] inflation we’re seeing now results from an economy that’s coming back after an enormous shock. I think it’ll go away over the next year.

3. TFK Kid Reporter Orlie asks, “What long-term effects will the pandemic have on the economy?”

We don’t know yet. One thing we do know is that the world has become more exposed to pandemic-type illnesses. This has opened people’s eyes to the need to be prepared. So there’s a big effort to improve our preparations for things that might happen in the future.

4. TFK Kid Reporter Lauryn asks, “What are green jobs?”

When people use the term green jobs, they mean jobs that address climate change. Green jobs are those involved in activities that will replace fossil-fuel-burning electricity and cars that use gas.

5. TFK Kid Reporter Tabitha asks, “What role does the Treasury play in expanding the use of solar energy?”

The Treasury helps write the nation’s tax laws. Tax policy can be used to support an activity we want. A bill is working its way through Congress now that contains subsidies subsidy THOMAS BARWICK—GETTY IMAGES money given as support or encouragement (noun) To help farms across the country survive, the government gave them subsidies. for solar power.

6. TFK Kid Reporter Creedence says, “Our nation has debt. What can we do to get rid of it?”

I don’t think we have to get rid of it. It’s not a terrible thing for a country to have debt, as long as the debt is manageable.

7. What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is an invented currency or asset asset ARIEL SKELLEY—GETTY IMAGES something that is owned by a person, a country, or an organization (noun) Maria raised money by selling assets like her house and car. held in electronic form. We want to make sure they’re safe. Some of them promise that they’ll have a stable value relative to the dollar. We’ve been trying to have Congress make rules to make sure these do maintain their value.

8. What’s your favorite part of your job?

I have terrific colleagues.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.