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Fischer to the IMF: It Could Happen!

How Israel’s central banker would land the top job

Marc Tracy
May 27, 2011
Stanley Fischer in 2005.(Chip Somodevilla/AFP/Getty Images)
Stanley Fischer in 2005.(Chip Somodevilla/AFP/Getty Images)

So, did you bet on Israeli central banker Stanley Fischer to be the next International Monetary Fund head when I told you to? Pity: Despite the fact that he is over 65 (and you’re not supposed to get the top IMF spot for a full term if you’re over 65), and that Israel itself has endorsed France’s Christine Lagarde, there is a weirdly possible scenario wherein Fischer could be seen as the peacemaker candidate and slip in. He is said to want it. And actually, it could be the United States that effectively puts him there.

You need a majority vote to be elected. Lagarde is the clear front-runner, and she will have the 35 percent that Europe provides in voting. But also running is Mexican central bank governor Agustin Carsten, who might receive the backing of much of the world, which is fed up with the fact that every single IMF head, in its 60-year history, has been European. Moreover, the U.S., with its 17 percent voting share, has the ability to get Lagarde in—or not. If the U.S. chooses not to back Lagarde, and neither she nor Carsten can garner majority support, then Fischer could be the compromise candidate. Part of the trick is that Fischer was born in Zambia and therefore could be presented as an African candidate (maybe). The rest of the trick is that Fischer is undeniably brilliant, mentored everyone important, and even has the respect of many Arab countries.

Betting’s expired. But those 16:1 odds aren’t looking so terrible now.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.