Fischer Set for Fed Vice Chairman

YERUSHALAYIM -

The appointment of former Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer as U.S. Federal Reserve Vice Chairman was as close on Thursday to being official as it could get while still being unofficial.

Bloomberg news cited a source close to the matter as saying that President Obama has, in fact, already offered the job to Fischer, who accepted it.

But the formal announcement likely awaits the expected Senate confirmation of Janet Yellen as Chairman of the Fed next month. Fischer would succeed her as Vice Chairman.

During a visit to Israel earlier this week, Fischer hinted at an imminent career move, saying, “I’m currently looking for a job. I was advised not to take a position until I’d waited six months, and that will be in another three weeks, so I’m probably close to a decision.”

Being the former head of a foreign bank could pose confirmation problems, but Fischer, 70, has dual Israeli and U.S. citizenship. And, as Globes observed, how likely is it that  Republicans would “lead a charge against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s top economic adviser?”

Actually, Fischer’s 3-year term as Citigroup vice chairman between 2002 and 2005, a period of expansion that eventually led to a Federal bailout, could prove more of a stumbling block.

However, his reputation both in economic theory and crisis management is such that if nominated, there will be little, if any, real opposition.

As Terrence Checki, international chief for the New York Fed, took a thoughtful question from Fischer at a recent banking conference, said: “I’ll just say that I would never presume to answer a question that Stan didn’t know the answer to.”