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Israel Central Bank Chief To Step Down In June

At the IMF, he worked on resolving financial crises in Mexico, Russia, and Southeast Asia during the 1990s. He was a vice chairman at Citigroup when he was hired as central bank chief.

Fischer was initially seen as an outsider when he first arrived, wearing tailored suits in an open-collar Mediterranean country and speaking heavily accented Hebrew. He quickly won plaudits for his calm demeanor and success in managing the economy through turbulent times.

In Israel, Fischer has been credited with moving early to cut interest rates and intervening in the currency market to protect the local export sector.

With the economy improving in 2009, Israel began raising interest rates, making it the first nation to take such a step toward post-recession stabilization. He was also instrumental in promoting Israel's successful bid for acceptance into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a grouping of 30 of the world's richest nations.

In mid-2011, Fischer applied for the top job at the IMF, after its director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was forced to resign. At the time, he called it a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity. He was disqualified because, 67 years old at the time, he was two years above the maximum age for an incoming managing director.

Sever Plocker, an Israeli economic commentator, said Fischer was "the responsible adult" of the Israeli economy throughout his eight-year tenure and revamped the entire approach to economic thinking in Israel.

Fischer pushed for a bill outlining a new governing structure for the central bank that promotes transparency and stability. He maintained large sums of foreign currency reserves, now standing at some $75 billion, and wielded significant influence over fiscal policy that has led to Israel's high growth rate and low unemployment.

"Because of his status, everyone was afraid of him and his criticism, and he is responsible for Israel's government carrying out a largely responsible policy these past eight years," said Plocker, the economic editor at the Yediot Ahronot daily.

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