Ben Bernanke, Chairman of America’s Federal Reserve, is receiving more and more credit for leading the global economy out of its recession. The honourable gentleman has a doctorate, gained from MIT, while studying with Stanley Fisher. Mr Fisher himself has had a distinguished career in international finance and is now governor of the Bank of Israel.
Very nice, but so what? The answer lies in a fascinating interview (in Hebrew) that Fisher gave on Friday to the “Yediot” newspaper.
Last week, Fisher gave a lecture at the annual symposium of banks in Wyoming. There he challenged an overwhelming consensus of financial leaders, who appeared resigned to keeping interest rates low for the next several months.
Fisher returned to Israel, where as I have indicated in recent postings, most of the leading indicators show that the recession has long since bottom out. He duly raised the interest rate by 0.25% to 0.75%.
In the interview, Fisher commented about his continued strong connection with Bernanke. At the same time, he noted that Israel’s economy appears to ahead of many powerhouses in the economic cycle. He would not rule out another rise before the end of 2009.
This is a tough balancing act. The interest rate will allow the shekel to appreciate, reducing the profitability on exports, on which Israels economy is dependent. On the other hand, inflation is beginning to raise its head.
It was a bad tsunnami to go through. The aftershocks may also bring a few surprises.