Stanley Fischer, the nominee for vice chairman of the Federal
Reserve, has been an influential academic as well as head of the
Bank of Israel.
Stanley Fischer has worked for much of his professional life to
improve economic policy in the developing world. Now he is on the
verge of a new role in a country with plenty of economic problems of
its own: the United States.
Mr. Fischer, nominated by President Obama to serve as vice
chairman of the Federal Reserve, is likely to move quickly through a
confirmation process that begins with a hearing before the Senate
Banking Committee on Thursday morning.
Assuming Mr. Fischer successfully negotiates that gantlet, he
would join Janet L. Yellen, the Fed's new chairwoman, in the
difficult work of figuring out how much more the Fed can do to help
the economy recover. Ms. Yellen proposed his selection to the White
Mr. Fischer has supported the efforts by the Fed and other
central banks to revive economic growth, but he has also described
the benefits as limited. "You could do a lot with monetary policy,
but you couldn't get the economy growing fast again," he said on
Bloomberg Television in September. "You needed fiscal policy."
Genial, courtly, self-effacing, Mr. Fischer is skilled at making
sharp points without making enemies.
Lawrence H. Summers, a former Treasury secretary, suggested at a
conference in November held by the International Monetary Fund in
Mr. Fischer's honor that there were fewer financial crises in the
decades after World War II because people acted prudently.
"Larry," Mr. Fischer responded, "I wonder whether the 35 years
after World War II had something to do with the fact that financial
liberalization hadn't yet happened."
Mr. Fischer, now 70, is a widely respected figure in the world of
economic policy. His academic work in the 1970s helped to provide
the intellectual justification for the activist monetary policy
being pursued today. His students included the recently retired Fed
chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, and Mario Draghi, head of the European
He subsequently began a career in policy making, including a
stint as second-in-command at the International Monetary Fund during
the 1990s and, most recently, an eight-year run as governor of the
Bank of Israel, a job he left in June.
Along the way, Mr. Fischer, who was born into a family of
shopkeepers in a small town in present-day Zambia, in a home without
running water, amassed a fortune as the author of a best-selling
economics textbook and a senior executive at Citigroup.
In December, Mr. Fischer disclosed assets worth $14.6 million to
$56.3 million, including a residence in New York worth at least $5
million. He said that he would divest some stock and investment
holdings if he were confirmed.
Mr. Fischer has said that his upbringing in Mazabuka, then part
of the British colony of Northern Rhodesia, imbued him with a
passion for economic development.
"One of the things that got me interested in economics,
peculiarly, was that Dag Hammarskjold was an economist," Mr.
Fischer recalled in a 2004 interview with his friend Olivier
Blanchard, now the chief economist at the I.M.F. "When I was in high
school, Dag Hammarskjold was this great man. Then he was killed in
the then-Belgian Congo, right next door. I knew he had done good in
the world and my parents had brought me up to believe I should do
good in the world. I realized that economics would help you do
Mr. Fischer came to the United States in the late 1960s to pursue
a doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then spent
nearly two decades there as a professor of economics. …