Stanley Fischer is among the top names being cited as potential candidates for vice chairman of the Federal Reserve. With a long history of both academic and central banking knowledge, Fischer is a prime candidate to help Chairman Janet Yellen through our economy's tough climate. But few know Fischer or his background, so here are a few glimpses into who he is and how he can help the Federal Reserve if appointed vice chairman.
1. Global perspective
Stanley Fischer was born in Mazabuka, Northern Rhodesia, which is now Zambia. During the course of his 70 years, Fischer has lived in the United States, Israel, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), and the United Kingdom. After becoming a U.S. citizen in 1976 at the age of 33, Fischer obtained dual citizenship with Israel upon taking the position of governor of the Bank of Israel in 2005. With experience in various economic scenarios, Fischer will be able to provide a big-picture perspective if appointed to the vice chairman seat.
After obtaining both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in economics from the London School of Economics, Fischer went on to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he got his Ph.D. in economics in 1969. Fischer then taught economics at the University of Chicago until 1973, when he returned to MIT as a professor.
During his first stint as a professor at MIT (he would teach from 1973-1988 and again from 1990-1994), he served as the Ph.D. thesis advisor to current Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, European Central Bank president Mario Dhragi, and Harvard chairman and professor of economics Greg Mankiw.
3. World banker
Since 1988, Fischer has held numerous jobs within the worldwide banking system. As chief economist at the World Bank, Fischer provided it with direction on strategy and research. (He was succeeded in this position by Larry Summers.) Fischer then moved to the International Monetary Fund, where he was named first deputy managing director. In 2002, Fischer joined Citigroup as vice chairman and president of Citigroup International. After he left Citigroup in 2005, he was nominated to governor of the Bank of Israel, where he worked until just recently.
While in the governor position, Fischer was awarded a "A" rating on the Central Banker Report Card published by Global Finance magazine for the years 2009 through 2012. He was lauded for his ability to steer the Bank of Israel through the global financial crisis, with the bank being the first in the developed world to raise its interest rates in September 2009.
With his experience in various central banking institutions, Fischer will bring a wider perspective to the Federal Reserve, which will be a complementary view to that of Yellen, who has worked solely in the U.S. banking system.
In 1984, Israel was facing a huge crisis when inflation neared 450% and threatened to rise to 1,000% by the end of the following year. But thanks to a tough stability plan, the country was able to reduce inflation to under 20% within two years of the plan's enactment. Fischer acted as an American government advisor for the 1985 Israel Economic Stabilization Plan.
Though the U.S. economy doesn't face the same threat of inflation that occurred in Israel during the 1980s, Fischer's experience with the plan could give investors and economists a greater sense of security with the top management at the Federal Reserve. Since Yellen is considered a dove, meaning she's more concerned with the impact of high unemployment than inflation, Fischer would be a good counterbalance to her stance.
For more than 10 years, Fischer has been a member of the highly selective Group of 30. The G30 is a body of international bankers and academics with the goal of expanding the understanding of economics and the impact of decisions made in both the public and private sectors. Members include the heads of most central and private banks, members of academia, and representatives from international institutions.
The G30 develops work groups, with the current group studying the effects of the global financial crisis on central banks. In particular, the independence of central banks seems to be at risk, so the group is trying to come up with ways of maintaining the effectiveness of central banks for the long term.
Other current members of the G30 include Timothy Geithner (former U.S. Treasury secretary), Mario Draghi (president of the European Central Bank), Paul Volcker (former Fed chairman), and Mark Carney (governor of the Bank of England).
Though the saying often goes that those who can't, teach -- the appointment of Stanley Fischer to vice chairman of the Federal Reserve would prove the point moot. With the impressive resume of both academic and management postings, Fischer is full of knowledge that could help the Fed steer the U.S. economy back to full strength. And his international experience is a bonus since it will help expand the view of the Fed's top management.
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