Israel approves Wharton professor Amir Yaron to lead its central bank


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The new head of Israel’s central bank is a finance professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton School of Business who was mentored in college by a Nobel Prize winner in economics.

Israel’s Cabinet approved Amir Yaron, 54, as the next governor of the Bank of Israel on Sunday. He is a dual Israeli and American citizen who has lived in the United States for the past two decades. His five-year-term begins this month.

Yaron succeeds Karnit Flug, who became the first woman to hold the post when she took over in 2013.

The Bank of Israel is the nation’s central bank, akin to the Federal Reserve in the United States. Its main objectives are to maintain price stability; to support other objectives of the government’s economic policy, especially growth, employment and reducing social gaps; and to back the stability of the financial system.

In a statement Sunday, Yaron said he was honored to take a post that “has been filled over the years by the best economists in Israel.”

“I am aware of the heavy responsibility placed on my shoulders, and I will do all in my power to fortify the strength and continued growth of the Israeli economy so that the entire Israeli public will benefit from its results,” he said.

Yaron said Flug “is handing me a wonderfully managed institution that is leading an economy that is growing and stable.”

He earned his doctorate at the University of Chicago, where his thesis adviser was Lars Peter Hansen, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in economics.

His research interests include asset pricing, econometrics, international finance and macroeconomics, according to his profile on the Wharton website.

Yaron earned his undergraduate degree at Tel Aviv University.

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