Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fischer and the IMF - Queen for a time like this?

On Saturday (please G-d not on Shabbos), Bank of Israel governor and former IMF chief economist Stanley Fischer announced that he too will be joining the race for managing director at the IMF, in the wake of Strauss-Kahn's resignation. Fischer will run side-by-side with French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and Mexican central bank chief Agustin Carstens. If (b"H) he wins, Fischer will assume the premiere global finance position in an era during which the world is struggling to recover from economic crisis.

Fischer is highly regarded by colleagues in domestic, national and global finance worldwide, also the WSJ predicts he may have trouble garnering support from Arab countries, whose vote counts as well. Born in Rhodesia in present-day Zambia in 1943, Fischer obtained his B.Sc. and Ms.C. in Economics at the London School of Economics, and his Ph.D. in Economics at MIT. In the years 1988-1990 Fischer served as Chief Economist at the World Bank, and from 1994-2001 served as Deputy Managing Director of the IMF. After his time at the IMF, Fischer became Vice Chairman at Citigroup until 2005, his last position before assuming the role of Governor of Bank of Israel, which he holds until this day. In a less-known fact, Fischer, an American citizen, made aliyah in order to assume the premiere position at Israel's national bank. Under Fischer's leadership, the Bank was ranked first among central banks worldwide for its efficiency.

The first hurdle for Fischer in his pursuit of the Fund's managing director seat is his age - 67 - which is two years beyond the IMF maximum according to the group's bylaws. The second is winning support of Arab states and emerging markets in Latin America and Asia. On a positive note, Israel's Fischer is in fact highly regarded by Palestinian banking officials. Former head of the Palestine Monetary Authority called Fischer the most qualified candidate to date. The French candidate Lagarde is currently the favorite in Europe, which holds around 35% of the IMF votes. According to the WSJ, one scenario is that the vote will be split between Lagarde and Carstens, in which case IMF officials may turn to him as a compromise pick.

Although Fischer is only midway through his second term at Bank of Israel, Haaretz quoted Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Fischer's election would be an "certificate of honor'' for Israel. Could Hashem have orchestrated Strauss-Kahn's anything-but-graceful fall from the top for this opportunity? We hope Fischer will b"H ascend to victory and heed the timeless wisdom of Esther --

For if you remain silent at this time, 
Relief and rescue will arise for the Jews from elsewhere, 
And you and your father's household will perish; 
And besides - 
Who knows whether you became Queen precisely for a time like this?

כִּי אִם-הַחֲרֵשׁ תַּחֲרִישִׁי בָּעֵת הַזֹּאת רֶוַח וְהַצָּלָה יַעֲמוֹד לַיְּהוּדִים מִמָּקוֹם אַחֵר, וְאַתְּ וּבֵית-אָבִיךְ תֹּאבֵדוּ
וּמִי יוֹדֵעַ אִם-לְעֵת כָּזֹאת, הִגַּעַתְּ לַמַּלְכוּת

עלה והלצח פישר

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