In its latest News IQ Quiz, Pew Research Center decided to assess what Americans know about the people who set their monetary policy. Specifically, Pew wanted to know how aware Americans are of the person in charge of the people who set their monetary policy. Here's how Pew presented its question:
If you answered "Janet Yellen," congratulations! You, wise Moneybox reader, are among the 24 percent of people in our nation who can identify the current Fed chair among four options on a multiple-choice question. Pew reports that 17 percent of people chose Alan Greenspan, 6 percent picked Sonia Sotomayor, and 5 percent opted for John Roberts. Forty-eight percent did not guess on the question.
While 24 percent recognition doesn't exactly say great things about public awareness of the Fed, it's also not terrible, considering that Yellen was only confirmed in January and the Fed itself is notoriously taciturn. When Pew asked a similar question about Ben Bernanke in 2008, it was a full two years into his appointment as Fed chief, and 35 percent of people answered correctly. (The other choices in that quiz were Alan Greenspan, Paul Volcker, and Henry Paulson; 27 percent of respondents picked Greenspan.)
Of course, the percentage of people who ID'd the Fed chair correctly would almost certainly have been smaller if Pew hadn't jogged memories with four multiple-choice responses. Case in point: In 2007, Pew found that only 36 percent of people could come up with "Vladimir Putin" when asked to name the president of Russia as an open-ended question. When three choices were given (Putin, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Boris Yeltsin) that figure jumped to 60 percent.