Janet Yellen, Stanley Fischer a Fed 'Dream Team,' Pimco's El-Erian says

WASHINGTON -- The nomination of former Bank of Israel head Stanley Fischer to be Janet Yellen's lieutenant gives the Federal Reserve a "Dream Team" in the top two positions,  Pimco Chief Executive Mohamed El-Erian said Monday.

Fischer was the "most inspired choice" of a slate of three nominees announced Friday by the White House, El-Erian said in an opinion column for CNBC. The others were former Treasury official Lael Brainard, and Jerome Powell, a Fed governor since 2012 whose term expires on Jan. 31.


El-Erian said the three nominees "form a well-balanced and strong slate at a particularly important time for Fed policy."

But he had the most praise for the choice of Fischer, 70, who would bring a wealth of experience to the Fed if confirmed to be vice chair.

In addition to serving as governor of Israel's central bank from 2005 to 2013, Fischer has held high-ranking positions at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

He also was vice chairman of Citigroup Inc. from 2002 to 2005.

"Mr. Fischer's admirable qualities go beyond his enormous and highly-admired talent, experience, and personal integrity (all of which I observed first hand when we worked together at the IMF back in the 1990s)," El-Erian said.

"As I wrote in the Financial Times in June 2011 when Mr. Fischer was a candidate for the head of the IMF, he is also (a) world class economist who uses his brilliance to engage rather than intimidate others."

Fischer's background has led some analysts to worry he could overshadow Yellen, who takes over as Fed chair on Feb. 1 for Ben S. Bernanke.

But Bloomberg News reported last week that Yellen pushed for Fischer's nomination to replace her as vice chair.

White House aides had been concerned that Fischer, who was close to being on the short-list of candidates to replace Bernanke, would not want the No. 2 job, Bloomberg said. Yellen reached out to Fischer and sold him on the idea.