fischer - Tomer Appelbaum - May 30 2011
Stanley Fischer Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer has submitted an application to become the next chief of the International Monetary Fund.

"An extraordinary, unexpected and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has arisen, to run for the head of the International Monetary Fund, which I decided I wanted to do after many considerations," Fischer said Saturday.

Fischer informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz of his decision to apply for the post.

The leading candidates for the post are French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and Bank of Mexico governor Agustin Carstens.

Factors working against Fischer's candidacy are his age (67) and the IMF's tradition of picking a European candidate.

According to IMF rules, the age limit for candidates to head the organization is 65.

Fischer said he was applying knowing it is "a complex process and despite the potential barriers."

Fischer served as the deputy IMF chief from 1994 through 2001.

The IMF is required to vote for a new leader by June 30.

Steinitz said in a statement that he supported Fischer's candidacy.

"The position fits Fischer like a glove," Steinitz said.

The previous IMF director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, quit in May in the wake of allegations that he attempted to rape a hotel maid in New York.

It had earlier been reported that there was growing support for Fischer to be appointed to head the IMF.

Several of the world's leading newspapers have expressed support for Fischer, including the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. Reuters and the magazine Euromoney also found significant support for Fischer in surveys.

Fischer has headed the Bank of Israel since 2005 and has held top jobs at the World Bank and at Citigroup Corp. He was recently appointed to a second five-year term as Bank of Israel governor.

Fischer has been widely credited with enabling Israel to largely escape the global economic crisis. Unemployment in Israel is just over 6 percent, and the real estate sector is booming.