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Netanyahu, Lapid Name New Bank of Israel Chief

Pending approval, economist Leo Leiderman will lead Israel’s central bank

Romy Zipken
August 01, 2013
Bank of Israel.( Emil Salman/Haaretz)
Bank of Israel.( Emil Salman/Haaretz)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid have named the new governor for the Bank of Israel. The position will go to Leo Leiderman, a professor, and Bank Hapoalim’s chief executive.

Earlier this week, former Bank of Israel governor Jacob Frenkel withdrew his candidacy in the wake of dual scandals, including alleged shoplifting in 2006 as well as criticism of the “bloated compensation package he received following his first term, which lasted from 1991 to 2000,” the Jerusalem Post reports.

In a joint statement, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid expressed their regret at Frenkel’s decision. “In the atmosphere that exists today, we are not far from the day that nobody will want to go near public life,” they said.

Nevertheless, they found a leader in Leiderman. His nomination, however, still needs to be approved by the Appointments Advisory Committee, Bloomberg News explains. Until then, Leiderman seems excited for the opportunity, if one can glean enthusiasm via SMS:

“I’m excited to return to the Bank of Israel and I will work to help the Israeli economy confront the challenges that we face,” Leiderman, 62, said in a text message.

Netanyahu and Lapid decided against nominating acting governor Karnit Flug, who had worked at the Bank of Israel for 25 years. According to Reuters, Leiderman was probably chosen for his international credentials, like when he worked as the head of emerging markets research at Deutsche Bank. Surely international experience will be helpful. He’ll have his work cut out for him.

He inherits an economy that is slowing due to the global downturn, tame inflation, and a benchmark interest rate of 1.25 percent.

Romy Zipken is a writer and editor at Jewcy. Her Twitter feed is @RomyZipken.