October 21, 2014

Should Next Israeli PM Ask BOI Head Fischer What to Do?

With no real clarity as to who will be the next Israeli prime minister, an editorial in the business daily Globes, says that regardless of who forms the new government, that person should ask Bank of Israel head Stanley Fischer for help forming economic policy. I must admit that I think that Globes is an excellent paper, but this op-ed left me scratching my head.

The author writes, ” The answer to all these lies in the plan each candidate for the premiership has for dealing with the economic crisis, assuming they have such plans. One can assume that in the case of both Livni and Netanyahu, the main plan is to ask Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer what to do. What they will hear is what the governor has been saying for weeks: fiscal expansion is possible only as a temporary measure; the non-bank credit market must be expanded; the financial system must be strengthened.”

‘assuming they have such plans”… what on earth is he talking about. Netanyahu has a detailed economic plan. Remember; lower corporate taxes, lower income taxes… targeted fiscal stimulus and privatization. You would think that a writer for a business paper would know that.

The other issue that I have is that BOI head is considered the end all of economists. I know that Israeli politicians never bothered asking during his confirmation hearings, but his policies led to the Asian crisis back in ’98, which then spread to Russia, Latin America. He was the head of the IMF. As we have mentioned here many times, Fischer was late in understanding that Israel was quickly sinking into an economic slowdown.

i think it’s time that we stop putting Fischer on some kind of economic pedestal. Maybe we should take a look at his record, especially, as the Globes author wishes for, Fischer is going to set Israeli economic policy?

About Aaron Katsman

Aaron Katsman is the President of Lighthouse Capital, financial columnist for the Jerusalem Post and a renowned speaker on investing in Israel.

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