Blejer favorite to become Bank of Israel Governor

Former Governor of the Central Bank of Argentina Prof. Mario Blejer is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's preferred candidate.

Former Governor of the Central Bank of Argentina Prof. Mario Blejer and former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Zvi Eckstein are the leading candidates for the next governor of the Bank of Israel, after Prof. Jacob Frenkel and Prof. Leo Leiderman withdrew their candidacies. Both Blejer and Eckstein today submitted documents to the Turkel Committee for appointments of senior public officials, at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who wants the committee to vet several candidates before deciding on one.

Blejer arrived in Israel on Friday. After speaking with Netanyahu, he also met Minister of Finance Yair Lapid today. Eckstein also spoke with Netanyahu, and he already functions as a senior independent adviser to Lapid. If the Turkel Committee rejects both candidates, Accountant General Michal Abadi-Boiangiu will become the leading candidate in the race.

Blejer (65) was Governor of the Central Bank of Argentina in the 2000s, during the country's worst crisis. His tenure was highly controversial: on one hand, some claim that he failed in his job and was replaced; other believe that he succeeded in stabilizing the Argentine peso at three to the dollar, and began the stabilization of the country's banking system - two critical measures for stabilizing the economy.

Since leaving the Central Bank of Argentina, Blejer was twice asked to be appointed as Governor of the Central Bank of Argentina; once discretely by President Cristina Kirchner, and once publicly by Vice President Amado Boudou. In 2010, his name was mentioned as a leading candidate for finance minister. In the past decade, he has served as a top advisor to former Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King, and was a director at the Central Bank of Mauritius.

Blejer was born in Cordoba, Argentina. He has a BA and MA from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, a bastion of neoliberal economic theory, which holds that government intervention is unnecessary and harmful. He has also served as a director of IRSA Investments and Representations Inc. (NYSE; BCBA: IRS), Argentina's largest holding company, controlled by Eduardo Elsztain, who acquired a stake in Ganden Investments Ltd., through which Nochi Dankner controls IDB Holding Corp. Ltd. (TASE:IDBH).

He also serves as deputy president of Banco Hipoticario. Like Netanyahu and Lapid he sees the business sector as the main engine of growth, and the stability of the banking system as one of the necessary conditions for economic growth.

The other candidate, Prof. Eckstein is Dean of the Economics Faculty of the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center. Who preceded Dr. Karnit Flug as deputy governor probably over differences of opinion with then Governor Stanley Fischer who is believed to have declined to support his candidacy as the next governor.

When he resigned, the media reported that he sent his curriculum vitae to apply to become a member of the board of IDB Holding Corp. Ltd. (TASE:IDBH) on a Bank of Israel letterhead. Eckstein strenuously denies that he signed such a letter and says he does not know how such a document was sent from his office.

Ideologically Eckstein is on the left of the political map.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on August 11, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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