by Adam Gonn
JERUSALEM, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Governor of Israel's central bank Stanley Fischer has announced he would step down in June, three years before his second term ends, citing personal reasons.
When becoming governor of the Bank of Israel eight years ago, Fisher had a stellar background of senior positions at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as vice chairman of American banking giant Citigroup.
Fischer's decision to step down comes at a critical juncture of the Israeli economy as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working to establish a new coalition government after his Likud party won the parliamentary elections two weeks ago.
Although the Israeli economy is largely unaffected by the global economic meltdown, much to the credit of Fischer, the finance ministry's recent data show that the budget deficit grew to 4.2 percent of the GDP, more than twice the government's target of 1.5 percent.
While Israeli media lauded Fisher as irreplaceable, analysts told Xinhua that the Israeli economy doesn't stand and fall with one man.
"Stanley Fischer was an economic leader in the last eight years with an enormous capacity to lead the central bank and with an international reputation as a leading professor in macroeconomics, leading the IMF and in the business sector," Prof. Rafi Melnick of the Interdisciplinary-Center in Herzliya told Xinhua on Wednesday.
"Certainly we will miss him here but the fundamentals of the Israeli economy ... don't depend on one person," Melnick added.
Prof. Michael Beenstock of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem said judging by the performance of the capital markets, Fischer's announcement won't have much effect, since the stock exchange has been quiet and there has been no major sign of an earthquake about to happen.
"We can manage perfectly well without Fischer and there are a lot of talents around and we will find a good governor to replace him," Beenstock said.
Beenstock added that he doesn't think Fischer's resignation has anything to do with what the media are saying, referring to reports that his wife wanted them to move back to the United States so that they could be closer to their family.
The central bank governor, who wasn't an Israeli citizen when assuming the post, took on a second term so as to look after the newly introduced monetary policy committee, said Beenstock, adding that Fischer sees it fit to go after the committee has been running well for a year.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Fischer did say he will move back to live in the United States, at least for a while.
He also said that he had waited until after the parliamentary elections to announce his resignation to avoid his stepping down being politicized.
Although Fischer said he had a good working relationship with both Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Labor party leader Shelly Yachimovich said that his decision to leave was a sign of discontent with the government's economic policies.