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America Wants Our 'Rock Star Banker' Stanley Fischer

Kids dream of rock-star status, but it's a rare man who achieves it, let alone at age 70. Let alone after decades in banking. Yet that's what's happening to Stanley Fischer, who's been shortlisted for No. 2 man at the Fed.

Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster

Kids dream of rock-star status, but it's a rare man who achieves it, let alone at age 70. Let alone after decades in banking. Yet that's what's happening to Stanley Fischer, at least in economic circles, if not MTV.

Zambian-born Fischer is quite the household name in Israel, which can't be said of every central banker in the world. As crisis savaged the world economy, bringing banks and markets to their knees, as governor of the Bank of Israel, Fischer is widely credited – more than the government - with shepherding Israel's economy through the bad years. And now his nomination as vice-chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board has Washington's economic pundits as excited as kids offered a sneak peek at a Miley Cyrus video.

"Stan Fischer saved Israel’s economy. Can he save America’s?" asks Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post last February, when Fischer was being touted as a possible successor to Ben Bernanke. Ultimately the rail-thin Fischer lost that race to Janet Yellen, but not because he fell short in qualifications or general admiration.

"Any one of his past jobs would be a crowning achievement in an economist’s career," gushes Dylan, going on to list them and his huge influence on the global economy.

So why didn't Fischer, a naturalized American as well as Zambian and Israeli, get the top job at the Fed? Perhaps because he was such a strange bird. Also, despite holding some of the highest positions in global banking circles, he had just spent several years heading Israel's central bank. But maybe by now they've had time to come to terms with the fact that this superstar had unusual origins and an even more unusual career, and can accept his successes at face value. And now he's red-hot.

"People are freaking out because Fischer is an unexpected and unprecedented choice," wrote Max Nisen in Business Insider, adding – "and an absolute legend in central banking circles." He too goes on to list Fischer's achievements, not the least of which is thinking outside the box.

"While other countries were still struggling in the depths of recession or depression, Fischer actually raised rates in Israel in 2009, basically saying that the crisis was over for the country. It's the ultimate central banking power move," wrote Nisen. Now America is presumably hoping he'll scatter some of that foreign-fairy dust there too, and heal the economy of its ills using juju that nobody else even thought of.

Stanley Fischer. Credit: Bloomberg

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