Fan mail to the central banker

Praise for embattled Bank of Israel governor, who's having a 'bad week'
Governor of the Bank of Israel Karnit Flug during a meeting of the finance committee in the Knesset in Jerusalem on January 06, 2014. (Photo credit: Flash90)

Dear Karnit,

May I dispense with formalities? Or, should I begin with “Dr. Flug”?

Never mind. Rest assured that I’m a big fan.

I was in your corner when Dr. Fischer wanted you to be his successor. I railed to those who would listen when Bibi picked alleged philanderers and expense-cheats simply to avoid the obvious best choice. And, I’m seething every time the Populist-turned-Finance Minister grabs victory from your hands. (btw, ask to see his high school bagrut certificate. That’ll shut him up fast.)

But, I sense you’re having a bad week and it’s only Tuesday.

Ori Greenfield dissed you, saying your sporadic purchases of dollars aren’t effective in weakening the shekel. This, fresh on the heels of the Bank of Israel’s report of dollars-on-hand at their highest-ever level. $88 billion, that ain’t chump change.

Then, Nehemia Shtrasler chimes in with: “The biggest issue is that a central bank governor who doesn’t make her presence felt poses a concrete danger to Israel’s economic stability.”

Wow, that’s rough.

You know what, Karnit? Maybe they aren’t so nice in their delivery, but they are right. You need to be bold. You need to be brash. You’re the central banker of the start-up freaking nation, dammit. Start showing what you’ve got.

Make the move on setting a shekel floor exchange and stick to it.

Sure, the manufacturers want a 4:1 rate. (I want to be 20 pounds thinner). Not gonna happen. But you can be the one who sets a reasonable and rational number and then makes a lot of noise about it. Just because FX spread betting is a Tel Aviv growth business doesn’t mean you have to let the speculators push you around.

Then start blitzing the media.

Imagine People magazine: “Karnit, she’s just like us!” 

Get your picture out there hobnobbing with the pols. They need a distraction from the war. Get the BoI press office to book you on the business shows. Go woman-to-woman with Anna Edwards on Bloomberg. Talk tachlis with Hadley Gamble on CNBC. You’re what TV producers call a “huge get”.

We’re rooting for you as if our livelihoods depended on it, because they do.

About the Author
Robert is a financial writer and editor covering the Israel business scene at TLV Strategist and Analytika Research. He's a former editor at Bloomberg News in Tel Aviv, McKinsey & Co. and McDonald & Company Investments.
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