Witness for Group Suing Harvard Says Yellen Is Out of Her Depth

(Bloomberg) -- Janet Yellen, the former U.S. Federal Reserve chair, is a little out of her depth here, the star witness for a group suing Harvard said in court on Friday.

The plaintiff is Students For Fair Admissions, led by the conservative opponent of affirmative action Edward Blum, which claims that Harvard College discriminates against Asian-American applicants. Yellen is one of a raft of leading economists, including two Nobel Laureates, to file an amicus brief supporting Harvard. The lawsuit, which seeks to cut race out of Harvard’s process altogether, is widely expected to reach the Supreme Court.

Peter Arcidiacono, a professor of economics at Duke University, conducted the research at the heart of the group’s claims against Harvard. The brief supporting the college called his findings “implausible, because they would indicate that Harvard discriminates against Asian American applicants on one subscore only to turn around and discriminate in their favor on two others.”

In court on Friday, Bill Lee, Harvard’s lead lawyer, cross-examined Arcidiacono, who has been lively and full of smiles in his two days on the stand. Lee raised Yellen in connection with the amicus brief. Arcidiacono jumped in to tack a clause onto her name.

“Who does not do any research related to this topic,” he said genially.

When Lee made note of those two pesky Nobel Laureates, Robert Solow and George Akerlof, Arcidiacono was ready.

“Who do not do any research in this field,” he said.

Yellen certainly knows a thing or two about Akerlof. They’ve been married for 40 years.

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