Amir Yaron, US-based finance professor, tapped as next Bank of Israel governor

Israeli-American citizen, who teaches at Wharton School at U. of Penn, announced as nominee by Netanyahu and Finance Minister Kahlon

Finance professor and Governor of the Bank of Israel Amir Yaron. (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)
Finance professor and Governor of the Bank of Israel Amir Yaron. (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania)

Amir Yaron, an Israeli-American finance professor, on Tuesday was announced as the next governor of the Bank of Israel, the country’s central bank.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon nominated Yaron, 54, at a joint press conference.

Yaron is the “most suitable candidate” for the post, said Netanyahu, praising his “hands-on” economic expertise and listing his academic accomplishments.

Kahlon said Yaron was picked to be the “the right man in the right place,” should another financial crisis seize the world in the coming years.

Current governor Karnit Flug is set to retire next month, after announcing earlier in the year that she would not be seeking to extend her term.

Netanyahu was said to favor Yaron because he is not from the local capital market and is not associated with any local leading business figures, Hebrew media reported. His international stature also made him an attractive candidate.

Yaron currently lives in the US, where he is a financial professor at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He is also a research associate at the US National Bureau of Economic Research.

He pursued his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Tel Aviv University, followed by a doctorate from the University of Chicago. According to his resume, he specializes in asset pricing, investments, risk-return strategies, macroeconomics and finance.

Yaron’s appointment will be presented to the Goldberg Committee, the state forum that vets candidates for the most senior public service positions, after which his tenure will need to be approved by the government.

Over the last few months, Netanyahu and Kahlon were said to have interviewed a number of other candidates including Professors Benzion Zilberfarb, Efraim Tsadḳah, and Mario Blejer.

In July, the Bank of Israel said Flug will step down in November after five years, and would not seek a second term.

Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug at a press conference in Jerusalem on March 28, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Flug spoke with Netanyahu, the bank said in a statement at the time, informing him she will not be a candidate for a second stint as governor of the central bank. The bank said she would continue to perform all her duties as head of the bank until November 12.

The Bank of Israel has recently released a report that was critical of the finance minister’s flagship housing project, which subsidizes homes for qualified buyers. Flug has also clashed with Kahlon a number of times on his bid to cut taxes for citizens, saying the government should spend surplus tax revenues on infrastructure, education and improving social services instead

Flug, who has been in office since 2013, replaced Stanley Fischer who went on to become a — now former — US Federal Reserve vice chairman.

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