How financial markets performed during the Yellen Fed years

  • Tech stocks doubled, financials outperformed and the Nasdaq 100 gained 97 percent in the four years that Janet Yellen served as Fed chair.
  • Yellen's Fed raised interest rates for the first time in 11 years in 2015 and four times since. Her predecessor Ben Bernanke set the fed funds rate at zero during the thick of the financial crisis in December 2008.
  • The 2-year yield, the most reflective of Fed policy, rose from 0.34 percent to 2.14 percent during Yellen's tenure.
Janet Yellen, Chair of the Federal Reserve.
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Janet Yellen, Chair of the Federal Reserve.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen leaves her post after four years this week, and during her tenure it was smooth sailing for stocks, with tech shares doubling and financial stocks springing back to life.

The Nasdaq 100 gained 97 percent and emerging market stocks soared, with the Argentine Merval jumping nearly five times and the Brazilian Bovespa rising 80 percent. The Dow is up 67 percent and the S&P 500 gained 59 percent.

Sources: Reuters, FactSet

It was just over nine years ago that the Federal Reserve took the fed funds rate to zero during the financial crisis, but it was the Yellen Fed that brought it back, raising interest rates for the first time since the financial crisis in December 2015. The Fed has since hiked four more times, and during Yellen's tenure, the S&P financials, big beneficiaries of higher rates, rose 74 percent. The fed funds target rate range is currently 1.25 to 1.5 percent.

Janet Yellen
Carlos Barria | Reuters
Janet Yellen

The 2-year Treasury yield, the one that most closely reflects Fed policy, has jumped from 0.34 percent to 2.14 percent. But Yellen also has kept a heavy dose of policy in place, and the 30-year yield is actually lower at 2.96 percent from 3.62 percent. The 10-year yield just recently rose above its 2.66 percent 2014 level and was at 2.74 percent Wednesday as Yellen held her final meeting as chair amid expectations for higher interest rates.

Sources: Reuters, FactSet

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