Christine Lagarde to Head IMF
On July 5, Christine Lagarde, a petite, intelligent French woman, will assume the title of Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. Already considered one of the world's top leaders of finance as the French Finance Minister, she will expand her influence in monetary matters.
The announcement came Wednesday June 28, more than a month after previous director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, also French, was arrested in New York and charged with rape, sexual abuse and unlawful imprisonment of a hotel maid.
Since that time, the world of finance and global politics has been engaged in a lengthy debate about whether the new leader of the IMF should be European, as tradition has held, or whether it was time to move leadership towards developing countries as a nod to the worldwide shift in monetary power.
The IMF's selection process was scrutinized, viewed by emerging markets as archaic and overly secretive.
In the end, Lagarde easily beat opponent Agustin Carstens, Mexico's Central Bank Governor, but the groundwork may have been laid for a future IMF Director from outside Europe.
European countries argued that the IMF will be largely responsible for getting Greece and Portugal out of their crucial debt crises, each members of the European Union. As a result, the general feeling was that a European would be more knowledgeable and familiar with EU procedures and protocol.
Emerging markets wanted to see a financial market that reflects the post-recession monetary power, where European countries are struggling to maintain their economies and developing countries are seeing real growth.
The United States did not weigh in on candidates until the final hour, although it was widely believed going into the selection that the U.S. would back a European partially in an effort to protect the tradition of a U.S. led World Bank. In the end, they did vote for Christine Lagarde.Continued on the next page