Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer will hand in his shock
resignation in the coming days and take up a new position as head of the
Bank of Zambia, sources have told The Jerusalem Roast.
was born in Zambia, then Northern Rhodesia, in 1943, but left with his
family for neighboring Zimbabwe as a teenager. He studied at the London
School of Economics from 1962-66, and obtained his Ph.D in economics at
MIT in 1969. It was in the US where he established a reputation as one
of the world's top economists before becoming Israel's central bank
chief in 2005.
A clause in Fischer's contract allowing him to
accept job offers abroad makes his impending resignation possible. This
clause is what enabled Fischer to nominate for the position of
International Monetary Fund managing director, for which he was
eventually ruled ineligible because the rules stipulated that no-one be
appointed to the post above the age of 65.
Sources close to
Fischer say he is still hurt by the IMF episode, and is driven by a love
for the African continent he left behind more than 50 years ago and by a
desire to use his expertise to help improve the situation in the
world's poorest region.
"Stan loves Israel and is proud of his
Jewish heritage, but his heart has always been in southern Africa. He
probably has the best collection of Bantu artwork this side of the
Zambezi River," the source, who asked not be named, said.
understood that Zambian President Michael Sata first approached Fischer
in September after firing central bank governor Caleb Fundanga. Sata
dismissed Fundanga over a dispute about monetary policy, even though the
latter was widely credited with reducing inflation to below 10 percent
for the first time in three decades.
Finance Minister Yuval
Steinitz is believed to be furious with Fischer's decision. Treasury
officials told the Roast that he even canceled his participation in the
office's annual Purim party in order to convince Fischer to reverse his
Steinitz has an unlikely ally in the form of Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe, although the two have different reasons for
opposing Fischer's appointment at the Bank of Zambia.
A furious Mugabe reportedly told cabinet officials this week: "Those damned Zambians have done it to us again. It's bad enough that they're conducting a campaign on Britain's behalf to topple my democratic regime. Now they've also beaten us to the punch in the contest for Fischer's services."