By Binyamin Appelbaum and Peter Baker

New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON — Stanley Fischer, the former governor of the Bank of Israel and a mentor to the Federal Reserve’s chairman, Ben Bernanke, is the leading candidate to become vice chairman of the Fed, according to former and current administration officials.

If nominated, and then confirmed by the Senate, Fischer, 70, would succeed Janet Yellen, whom President Barack Obama nominated to succeed Bernanke as the Fed’s leader when his term ends in January.

Fischer is at once a surprising choice and a popular pick among economists and investors. He is a highly regarded economist with significant policy making experience, yet many had considered his selection improbable because of his recent service in a foreign government. News about Fischer’s possible nomination was reported on Israeli television.

That experience could become an issue if he is nominated, as could his experience at Citigroup, where he was vice chairman between 2002 and 2005. The company’s expansion during that period eventually ended in a federal bailout.

As the Fed’s vice chairman, Fischer would most likely exert a moderating influence on Yellen, echoing, in a way, her intellectual partnership with Bernanke. Yellen is a forceful advocate for the Fed’s efforts to stimulate the economy and reduce unemployment. Fischer has been generally supportive of those efforts but has raised questions about the particulars.

“You can’t expect the Fed to spell out what it’s going to do. Why? Because it doesn’t know,” he said at a conference in September, according to The Wall Street Journal. “It’s a mistake to try and get too precise.”