Israel’s latest pick for central bank chief quits

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s newly designated central bank chief dropped his candidacy for the post Friday, following a similar withdrawal of the previous candidate.

In a statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said economist Professor Leonardo Leiderman informed the prime minister he was abandoning the prestigious job. No reason was given, but the announcement came a day after an Israeli television channel reported that Leiderman consulted with an astrologist regularly.

The Argentinian-born Leiderman has been a faculty member at Tel Aviv University for the past 20 years and is also a macroeconomic adviser to Israeli Bank Hapoalim. He has a doctorate in macroeconomics from the University of Chicago and has written seven books.

Netanyahu’s previous choice for central bank chief had similarly impressive credentials for the job of Israel’s governor of monetary policy. Jacob Frenkel withdrew his nomination over an old shoplifting case, though he was never charged or detained over the incident at a Hong Kong airport seven years ago.

Leiderman’s withdrawal marks another blow to Netanyahu and his finance minister Yair Lapid as they seek to fill the void left by the internationally respected economist Stanley Fischer. Fischer stepped down in June after eight years on the job.

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