Argentinian BoI candidate Mario Blejer 370.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday denied reports that it had submitted the
names of four – or any – possible nominees for Bank of Israel governor for
vetting and approval by the Turkel Committee.
Contrary to media reports,
it said no meeting had been scheduled or took place with former Argentine
Central Bank president Mario Blejer, who had been reported as Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu’s favored candidate for the position.
night, Channel 2 reported that Netanyahu would submit a list of several
candidates, including Blejer, BoI Deputy Gov. Zvi Eckstein, former Finance
Ministry director and Bank Mizrahi CEO Victor Medina, and current Finance
Ministry accountant-general Michal Abadi-Boiangiu.
Army Radio and Haaretz
on Sunday reported that Blejer had flown to Israel on Friday, and was set to
meet with the committee to advance his candidacy for the
According to Globes, both Blejer and Eckstein spoke with
Netanyahu by phone, and Blejer met with Finance Minister Yair Lapid on
Whoever Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid choose will be
the third nominee since former governor Stanley Fischer stepped down in June.
The first two nominees, former BoI governor Jacob Frenkel and Bank Hapoalim
chief economist Leo Leiderman, both withdrew their candidacies over alleged
In Fischer’s absence, his deputy Karnit Flug has taken the role
of acting governor.
Netanyahu and Lapid overlooked Flug for the
nomination twice, despite votes of confidence from Fischer and several prominent
MKs. Following Leiderman’s nomination, Flug announced she would step
Critics, such as opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor), have
accused Netanyahu of “chauvinism” in his persistent refusal to consider Flug,
arousing suspicion that the addition of Michal Abadi- Boiangiu to the list was
intended to counter such claims.
“The prime minister has not given up his
attempt to find a foreign appointment, and, oddly, continues to ignore deputy
governor Karnit Flug, despite the price the appointment process is exacting on
the image of economic leadership and the harm caused by the strengthening of the
shekel,” said Rafi Gozlan, chief economist at IBI.
The shekel broke a
2-year record in strength last week, with its value against the dollar falling
to 3.53 on Friday.
Psagot’s Uri Greenfeld observed that members of the
Bank’s monetary committee have gone to great lengths to downplay the leadership
gap; even without a governor, it continues to make regular monetary decisions.
But that may not settle the foreign exchange markets.
saga of choosing a governor with all its epic twists and the feeling that
there’s no head of house at the Bank have brought foreign players to bet on the
strength of the shekel,” he said.