Stanley Fischer resigns as Bank of Israel head

Noted economist who navigated Israel through world recession to step down in June, two years before the end of his second term

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90)

Bank of Israel chief Stanley Fischer submitted his resignation Tuesday, telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he would leave his post in June, two years before his second term as governor was set to finish.

Fischer, a popular bank head who steered Israel through the global financial downturn, provided no reasons for his decision.

Fischer told Netanyahu he wanted to step down in April, but the prime minister convinced him to delay the resignation until June. Fischer scheduled a press conference for Wednesday morning to make the formal announcement. 

The governor noted that he would continue to serve the Bank of Israel to the fullest of his abilities until his retirement, as well to assist in finding a suitable replacement.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz thanked Fischer for his service as head of the Bank of Israel, calling the outgoing governor “an asset not only to Israel’s economy but also to its international image.”

Knesset Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) credited Fischer with “upgrading the status of the Bank of Israel” both domestically and abroad.

“We worked very closely together even when we disagreed,” Gafni said, adding that he was sorry to hear of Fischer’s resignation.

Bank Hapoalim Chairman Yair Seroussi and CEO Zion Kenan released a statement in which they said that Fischer “successfully navigated the Bank of Israel and the Israeli monetary system, and kept the Israeli market stable during a period of a serious global economic crisis.”

They added that Fischer was a true professional with “integrity and fairness, and a deep understanding of the needs of the economy and the banking system. His leadership and professionalism will be missed.”

Fischer, 69, was born in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and lived in Southern Rhodesia (modern Zimbabwe) before his family moved to the United States. He served as the chief economist at the World Bank in the late 1980s and as first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund from 1994 to 2001.

In 2005, on the recommendation of then-prime minister Ariel Sharon and then-finance minister Netanyahu, the Israeli cabinet appointed Fischer to a five-year term as governor of the Bank of Israel. On accepting the position, Fischer moved to Israel.

In 2010, Fischer was appointed to a second term, due to finish in mid-2015.

On informing the prime minister of his decision, Fischer said he was grateful for the opportunity to have served the Israeli government during such an economically challenging period.

Netanyahu thanked Fischer for his eight years of service at the helm of the Bank of Israel, saying that Fischer was a “central partner in the state of Israel’s economic growth and economic achievements.” Fischer’s “experience, wisdom and international connections” were crucial during a period of global economic crisis, the prime minister said.

During Fischer’s tenure, Israel was ranked first among central banks for efficiency by the International Institute for Management Development’s World Competitive Yearbook in 2010.

Fischer received an “A” rating on Global Finance magazine’s Central Banker Report Card every year from 2009-2012.

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