IMF Appoints France's Lagarde as Managing Director
The International Monetary Fund executive board Tuesday officially named Christine Lagarde as the next IMF director, after the French finance minister won late support from the U.S. and several major emerging-market nations.
Lagarde, who succeeds Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is the first woman named to the top IMF post since the institution's inception in 1944.
The Managing Director is the chief of the IMF's operating staff and Chairman of the Executive Board. The chief executive is assisted by three Deputy Managing Directors in the operation of the Fund, which serves 187 member countries through about 2,700 staff from more than 140 countries.
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde was regarded to be very likely to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the helm of the International Monetary Fund as early as a month ago.
"I would argue that Christine Lagarde has outstanding credentials," Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg said in a Bloomberg Television interview.
Her gender is an "advantage" since "half of the world has not been represented as managing director" of the IMF, Borg said.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Lagarde would be "an excellent choice" as Europe's candidate, the Italian government said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
Berlusconi said it's "fundamental" that Europe should reach a common position on who the candidate should be as soon as possible, the statement said.
European Union President Herman Van Rompuy has called for a quick decision on a new IMF leader, saying Strauss-Kahn's arrest has hurt efforts to tackle Greece's financial crisis.
"We can't lose time," Van Rompuy told a conference yesterday in Brussels. "We are feeling a lack of leadership in solving the Greek crisis."
Europe is likely to succeed in getting Lagarde the job as developing nations are too divided to back a single candidate, said world-renowned economist Nouriel Roubini, who predicted the recent global financial crisis.
"The Europeans are going to be united in wanting a European, and I think the European candidate is going to be Christine Lagarde," Roubini, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television.
Europeans have picked IMF heads for 65 years under a deal that also gives the U.S. control over the top World Bank post. The No. 2 person at the IMF has traditionally been chosen by the U.S.
Lipsky, 64, the No. 2 official at the fund, will remain acting leader, the fund said in a statement May 18.
Lipsky called Lagarde "very, very talented" and a "capable leader."
Lagarde, 55, a national of France, has been the Minister of Finance of France since June 2007. Prior to that, she served as France's Minister for Foreign Trade for two years.
Lagarde also has had an extensive and noteworthy career as an anti-trust and labor lawyer, serving as a partner with the international law firm of Baker & McKenzie, where the partnership elected her as chairman in October 1999.
She held the top post at the firm until June 2005 when she was named to her initial ministerial post in France.
Lagarde has degrees from Institute of Political Studies (IEP) and from the Law School of Paris X University, where she also lectured prior to joining Baker & McKenzie in 1981.
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