Race on to succeed Lagarde at IMF

19 Jul 19

The race is on to find a successor to Christine Lagarde, who has resigned as managing director of the International Monetary Fund after being nominated to become the next president of the European Central Bank.

Lagarde, who has led the IMF since 2011, resigned on Tuesday, and a broad field of candidates to succeed her at the global crisis lender – which has traditionally appointed a European – is now emerging.

Speculation about potential candidates has focused on Marc Carney, the governor of the Bank of England and former head of Canada’s central bank.

Other candidates include Margrethe Vestager, the outgoing EU competition commissioner, World Bank chief executive Kristalina Georgieva, and Bank of France governor François Villeroy de Galhau.

Former Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Finland’s former prime minister Alexander Stabb, and the UK’s former chancellor George Osborne are all said to be interested in the job.

A key issue will be the position of emerging economies, with the Mexican Agustín Carstens – a former deputy managing director of the IMF now heading the Bank for International Settlements – another contendor.

Lagarde resigned from the IMF after being nominated to replace Mario Draghi, the Italian economist who has been the ECB’s president since 2011. His term ends in October this year.

The former French cabinet minister said in a statement that her resignation would be effective from 12 September.

She did not immediately quit the IMF because of uncertainty over whether the new European Parliament would support her and other new EU leadership positions, sources told the news agency Reuters.

The parliament’s backing this week of Germany’s defence minister Ursula von der Leyen as new president of the European Commission cleared the path for Lagarde to proceed.

In her resignation statement, Lagarde said: “With greater clarity now on the process for my nomination as ECB President and the time it will take, I have made this decision in the best interest of the fund, as it will expedite the selection process for my successor.”

If appointed, Lagarde will become the ECB’s first female leader and will have responsibility for the euro and the monetary policy of the eurozone.

It is likely that the question of her successor at the IMF will be a key topic of discussion among G7 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting this week in Chantilly, France, amid concerns about slowing global growth and the trade war.

The Washington-based fund has indicated that it would “initiate promptly” the process of selecting Lagarde’s successor and, in the meantime, David Lipton will remain acting managing director.

  • Gavin O'Toole, expert on Latin America
    Gavin O'Toole

    A freelance journalist. He has written six books about Latin America and taught the politics of the region at Queen Mary, University of London.

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