Senate Committee To Consider Fischer For Fed's No. 2 Spot

Stanley Fischer, President Obama's choice to be the Federal Reserve's vice chairman, is on Capitol Hill Thursday for a confirmation hearing .

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Stanley Fischer used to be head Israel's Central Bank, and he was once second in command at the International Monetary Fund. Barring the unexpected, he'll soon be confirmed as vice-chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve. President Obama nominated him for that post. And today he'll go before the Senate Banking Committee.

NPR's John Ydstie has more on Fischer, whose influence on global economic policy might be unmatched.

JOHN YDSTIE, BYLINE: Fischer's influence has its roots in the 1970s, when he was an economics professor at MIT. The list of budding economists he influenced as a dissertation advisor is impressive and includes Ben Bernanke, former Fed chairman, and Mario Drahgi, the current head of the EU's Central Bank. Fischer also mentored Greg Mankiw, former top economist for George W. Bush and now head of Harvard's economics department.

GREG MANKIW: There's a lot of competition and some enmity among economists, but I can't think of anybody who doesn't like Stan.

YDSTIE: But Fischer didn't just launch his students to the top, he has impressive real world credentials of his own. His policies at the Bank of Israel helped that country avoid a deep recession after the global financial crisis. At the IMF, Fischer helped contain the Mexican bond crisis and a run on Asian currencies, avoiding global meltdowns. Again, Greg Mankiw.

MANKIW: And I think if there's ever a major international monetary crisis, he'd be the person that everybody would look to for counsel. He's extremely levelheaded, extremely open-minded. He's very good at trying to understand different points of view.

YDSTIE: The vice-chair of the Fed traditionally manages the Fed's international relationships. But in a Bloomberg News interview last summer, Fischer said Fed policy must be focused on the U.S. economy.

STANLEY FISCHER: You can't expect the Fed, whose mandate is about the United States economy, to worry about the rest of the world too much, except to the extent that it affects the United States.

YDSTIE: Fischer is a U.S. citizen, though he was born in Northern Rhodesia, which is now Zambia. He also holds Israeli citizenship. Despite Fischer's accomplishments, Greg Mankiw says he doesn't expect a power struggle between Fischer and the new Fed chair, Janet Yellen.

MANKIW: He's very easygoing, very serious, but doesn't take himself excessively seriously. He takes his work seriously.

YDSTIE: In fact, Yellen reached out to Fischer and encouraged him to take the Fed's number two job. He's widely expected to be confirmed.

John Ydstie, NPR News.

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