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There are two major candidates to replace retiring Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke: former Obama economic advisor Larry Summers and Federal Reserve vice-chair Janet Yellen. For me, the story of Brooksley Born is the best argument against Larry Summers.

Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman does a much better job of laying out the current state-of-play in the nomination than I could, so I hope you'll follow the link and read it (go for the economics; stay for the sexism).

Brooksley Elizabeth Born was appointed head of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in 1994 by President Bill Clinton after Janet Reno edged her out for the post of attorney general. The CFTC is supposed to regulate the country's futures and options markets, and Ms. Born set about doing just that. She identified swaps--financial instruments valued for their complexity and freedom from regulatory scrutiny--as having the potential to do severe damage to our economy.

She proposed regulations to address the problem, but was thwarted by three powerful members of the country's economic establishment: Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan, and Larry Summers. Thanks to them, Congress passed legislation forbidding the CFTC from writing regulations on the derivatives market and Brooksley Born quit in 1999.

We all know what happened after that.

President Obama's choice for Fed chair is an important indicator of his vision for our economic future. Larry Summers has gotten a lot of things wrong, but this is The Biggie.

Brooksley Born is one of my heroes. The PBS Frontline special below is one of the reasons.

Watch The Warning on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Sun Sep 15, 2013 at 2:15 PM PT: Mission accomplished. Larry Summers bowed out of consideration for the reserve chair's job.

Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 4:30 PM PT: Janet Yellen could be appointed Fed chair tomorrow.

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