May 16th, 2011
08:44 PM GMT
But while no one could have predicted the drama that was about to unfold in New York last weekend, economists, at least, began addressing the topic of Strauss-Kahn's succession months ago.
Several names have been touted as potential candidates to succeed Strauss-Kahn, 62, and his deputy, John Lipsky, who has already said he will step down in August.
As you'd expect, many of the favorites come from the world's emerging markets which want more of a say in the boardroom, in accordance with their rising economic clout.
Mind you, experts say it's unlikely the West will cede too much control, especially given ongoing concerns about the solvency of certain Eurozone members.
"The key global posts at the IMF and World Bank will still be carved up as privileges for the United States and the Eurozone," says Rachel Ziemba, a senior analyst at Roubini Global Economics in London.
"If that’s the case, keeping the institutions' legitimacy will remain suspect in the mind of the emerging market countries. They could insist Eurozone countries stick to their deficits and other criteria more stringently," she says.
Here's a snapshot of some of the potential successors the market is putting its money on for the top job.
Tellingly, many of them are from developing world economies. Many of them have also spent time at the IMF or at the World Bank.
1: Mohamed el-Erian. The CEO and CIO of Pimco is French and Egyptian, which could satisfy the 'West and The Rest' divide.
As head of the world's largest bond fund, he helps manage about $1.2 trillion dollars. As such he has experience of managing big budgets and an intricate knowledge of those bond markets, often feared and loathed by many a Eurozone finance minister. El-Erian is no stranger to the IMF either having spent 15 years there during his early career.
2: Kemal Dervis. The former head of the United Nations Development Programme served as Turkey's finance minister, steering the country through painful economic reforms.
He negotiated a vital $16 billion package from the IMF, stabilized the Lira and introduced reforms to tackle corruption. He is no stranger to Washington either, having worked for the World Bank for 22 years.
3: Augustin Carstens. A former finance minister - in Felipe Calderon's administration - in Mexico, one of the U.S.'s most important trading partners. He is now governor of Mexico's central bank.
He has worked for the IMF and was a deputy managing director there. He is married to prominent U.S. academic and economist Catherine Mansell.
4: Montek Singh Ahluwalia. After graduating from Oxford University in the UK, Ahluwalia joined the World Bank, where he became one of its youngest division heads at 28.
He has served as secretary to both India's Finance and Economics Ministries and is a member of the influential advisory body, the Group of 30, in Washington.
5: Stanley Fischer. Governor of the bank of Israel, Fischer is a former vice chairman of Citigroup. Between 1994 and 2001 he worked for the IMF, attaining the position of first deputy managing director. As such, he was at the fund during the Asian financial crisis.
Yet, French candidates have historically dominated the top role at the IMF since 1944, holding the top position 26 years out of the last 33. We should also mention that the man at the helm of the European Central Bank is a Frenchman, Jean-Claude Trichet.
And while Trichet is likely to be replaced by Italian Mario Draghi at the end of the year, analysts like Ziemba caution it's unlikely France will be keen on kissing goodbye to its influence at both institutions in the same year.
"The EU and the U.S. may well lead to the choice of Christine Lagarde, the French Finance Minister," Ziemba says.
A lawyer by trade, Lagarde was the first female to become a G8 finance minister and the first female chair of U.S. law firm Baker & McKenzie.
Lagarde certainly has a good head on her shoulders but whether it's enough to make her the first female head of the IMF, we shall have to see.
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