Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid have forwarded a list of four new names to the Public Service Nominations Committee, headed by retired judge Jacob Turkel, to vet as possible candidates for the position of the governor of the Bank of Israel.
The four candidates presented to the committee on Thursday are: Professor Mario Blejer, who briefly served as Argentina's central bank chief in 2002; former Bank of Israel Deputy Governor Tzvi Eckstein; Finance Ministry Accountant-General Michal Abadi-Boiangiu, and former Finance Ministry Director-General Victor Medina.
The decision to have the committee vet the candidates prior to announcing which one of them will be tapped as the new central bank chief coincides with Netanyahu's decision to change the selection process customary for the post, in the wake of the embarrassment caused by the bungled nominations of former Bank of Israel Governor Professor Jacob Frenkel and Bank Hapoalim Chief Economist Leo Leiderman.
Frenkel withdrew his candidacy in the wake of an alleged shoplifting affair at a Hong Kong Airport duty-free store in 2006, while Leiderman dropped his bid after the Public Service Nominations Committee received information suggesting that his sudden departure from Deutsche Bank in late 2002 followed a complaint of alleged sexual harassment against a female coworker.
Blejer, 65 -- Netanyahu's front-runner for the position -- was born in Cordoba, Argentina, in 1948, and immigrated to Israel in 1968. He has a bachelor's degree in Economics and Jewish History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a master's degree in Economics from the same institution. He also earned a Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Chicago.
Much like recently departed bank governor Stanley Fischer, Blejer is a world-renowned economist with a solid international background, which includes several years with the Bank of England and 21 years with the International Monetary Fund, where he served in several senior positions, the last being senior adviser on European and Central Asian affairs.