Tags: christine lagarde | imf | international monetary fund

Will Non-European Finally Be Boss of International Monetary Fund?

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde was picked to run the European Central Bank (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Thursday, 04 July 2019 06:07 AM Current | Bio | Archive

With the surprise selection Tuesday of Christine Lagarde to be president of the European Central Bank, speculation immediately commenced about whether — for the first time in its 74-year history — the International Monetary Fund now run by France's Lagarde would have a non-European managing director.

In less than 24 hours, speculation about a successor to Lagarde has included such prominent non-Europeans as Tharman Shanmugaratnam, head of the Monetary Authority (Central Bank) of Singapore, and Agustin Carstens, Mexico's former finance secretary and head of the Central Bank of Mexico.

In 2011, the last time the IMF slot was vacant, Carstens was the runner-up to Lagarde. Easily recognized by his near-400-pound girth ("Is Agustin Carstens Too Fat To Be IMF Chief?" blared the headline of "24/7 Wall Street" in 2011), Carstens has been general manager of the International Bank of Settlements since 2017.

But inevitably, any article on a possible IMF boss from outside Europe is accompanied by the reminder that since the financial colossus was created in 1945, all of its 11 managing directors have been Europeans (five from France alone).

In addition, the IMF’s 24-member Executive Committee that chooses the managing director is top-heavy with Europeans.

At this point, the most-discussed prospect from Europe is Mark Carney, 53, chairman of the Bank of England. Carney holds British, Irish, and Canadian citizenship. 

Discussion of a non-European managing director was brought up at the October 2010 IMF/World Bank Annual Meeting. Following a closed-door meeting of finance ministers and Central Bank governors at that meeting, the late Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan told this reporter that "all they discussed was a non-European taking over when [then-Managing Director Dominique] Strauss-Kahn leaves."

Six months later, Strauss-Kahn resigned amid a sex scandal and was succeeded by Lagarde.

In October 2016, then-Under Secretary of the Treasury Nathan Sheets told Newsmax: "I do expect that in the not-too-distant future there will be discussions of managing directors from other parts of the world."

Sheets added that consideration of non-Europeans for the job is "altogether appropriate and the way it should be. The search seeks to find the most qualified and effective people to move forward in the senior leadership of the IMF."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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After the surprise selection of Christine Lagarde to be president of the European Central Bank, speculation is rampant about a non-European IMF boss.
christine lagarde, imf, international monetary fund
Thursday, 04 July 2019 06:07 AM
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