Stanley Fischer, the Israeli central bank governor, has challenged Christine Lagarde's ability to run the International Monetary Fund by claiming that his training as an economist made him a superior candidate.
Fischer, whose interest in the post emerged over the weekend, said it is essential that the managing director of the IMF has the academic training to help steer the world economy through the current crisis.
"In normal times, you can probably rely on intuition," Fischer told the Wall Street Journal. "But all the time, in different countries, there are serious economic issues [to be addressed]."
Fischer's decision to enter the race to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn was announced over the weekend, after nominations closed. It adds an intriguing twist to a race that appeared to be a formality, after Lagarde won praise and backing from a group of African finance ministers on Friday.
Born in Zambia in 1943, Fischer studied at the London School of Economics and at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He taught economics at the University of Chicago, before returning to MIT where he was economics professor from 1977 to 1999. His distinguished career also includes a seven-year stint as first deputy managing director at the IMF, from 1994 to 2001. He then moved to Citigroup, as president and then vice chairman, before taking up his present job running Israel's central bank in May 2005.