Prof. Zvi Eckstein
Prof. Zvi Eckstein Photo by Tomer Neuberg
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Prof. Zvi Eckstein, considered the second leading candidate for Bank of Israel governor, has received another prominent backer ahead of his interview on Wednesday with a government vetting committee.

Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, chairman of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education has come out in favor of Eckstein. Trajtenberg is best known for chairing the public committee bearing his name that examined cost-of-living and other social and economic issues following the summer 2011 social justice protests. He has also agreed to serve as a reference for Eckstein formal candidacy for the governor's position.

No response was received from Trajtenberg's office when asked for comment.

The vetting committee, known as the Turkel Committee, will interview the presumed frontrunner and former governor of the Central Bank of Argentina Prof. Mario Blejer on Thursday as well as fellow candidate Victor Medina, a veteran Bank of Israel and treasury official, on Wednesday.

The fourth candidate and only woman named for the position, Finance Ministry Accountant General Michal Abadi-Boiangiu, has asked to remain in her current post and will not be interviewed by the vetting committee.

Two days ago, Channel 2 aired a report that Thomas J. Sargent, Robert Lucas, Jr. and Edward C. Prescott, three American Nobel Prize laureates all in economics, recently sent letters addressed to Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, recommending that Eckstein be appointed governor. The Prime Minister's Office, which received the letters, refused to comment on them.

Eckstein, 64, served from 2006 until 2011 as deputy governor at the Bank of Israel. He did his PhD at the University of Minnesota and was a professor of Economics at Tel Aviv University, along with Trajtenberg. Eckstein is currently the dean of the School of Economics at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.