May 19th, 2011
03:16 PM GMT
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The Europeans are in a tricky position. They desperately want to keep the top job at the IMF, but they can’t be seen to be nakedly saying “it’s ours by right.”

So leaders from European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to finance ministers from Austria, Sweden and Denmark, (in fact just about anyone from Europe who has opened their mouth on the subject), are turning linguistic cartwheels to promote a European solution.

These are the arguments:

The standard formula runs something like this:

1. Of course, the best person should get the job.

2. Europe has the best person … give us the job.

There is a variation introduced by Angela Merkel of Germany which goes this way:

1. Of course over the mid term the job should be open to everyone BUT

2. At the moment, with Europe in such a mess it should go to a European. Give us the job.

The newest argument to be invented is that it should be Europe’s because … wait for it….

1. European Union countries collectively are the biggest shareholders of the fund

2. We pay the most. Give us the job.

The Europeans are desperate not to give up this role – and frankly for its own political reasons, nor is the United States. Because under the existing arrangements if Europe loses the IMF the U.S. might lose their automatic right to the World Bank presidency.

The quickest way to make sure there is no change in the status quo is for Europe speedily to agree a consensus candidate. Get them out into the open before the other countries even have time to hold a meeting. This is one reason why the name of French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde (pictured above)  is being promoted so heavily. The hope is by getting her name out into the open, they can get American agreement before other voting blocks even realize what’s happened. Get the Americans on board and it’s a done deal.

If the candidate is Christine Lagarde then the contest is probably just about over. She was an intern to a top U.S. congressman. She is a former chairman of the law firm Baker & McKenzie. And she has been minister for trade and industry and is now finance minister of France. Christine Lagarde has the experience, diplomacy, stature and reputation that would make her just about unbeatable.

Provided of course … the Europeans get moving ... fast.

soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Antje

    Europe pays by far the largest amount of the IMF budget. So why would it even be considered to have somebody from somewhere else? Certainly not somebody from 3rd world countries or at least that is what they want to be when it comes to contributing in accordance with their GDP.

    May 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  2. Lol@USA

    Let China run the IMF, much better than any Western country

    May 19, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  3. Alexis Weslyn

    She is certainly one of the most qualified candidates imaginable. It would also re-validate France, which suffered deservingly by association with D.S.K. It doesn't hurt that she is a woman, and I mean that in an entirely positive way.

    May 19, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  4. Merton Frank

    Unless we find out she once molested a bell hop on a cruise! haha

    May 19, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  5. Good Advice

    Yes, lets give control of the IMF to a group of nations that continuously have to bail out their own members, because theyre all going broke, following the financial policies suggested by the EU.


    May 19, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  6. Henk

    Go hristine Lagarde! And would this be the first woman has head of IMF?

    May 19, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  7. kac

    Its all just proof that imperialism never really disappeared and until the "brown" countries of the world take over it probably never will. Hopefully BancoSur, the PBOC, and the FNB and its alliance can simply gain more power and get on a level playing field or overthrow them.

    May 19, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  8. Tom

    This whole thing with Strauss-Kann is nothing but political BS. Started by a little man who has very little poll ratings, he might not be directly involved but someone in his cabinet knows something. The only way as indicated in the polls to do another 5 year term was to beat Strauss-Kann. So why not just get him out of the way? Last now they are considering Christine LeGarde for his position in the IMF someone directly in Sarko's cabinet a little strange!! Plus they may start putting her under investigation in the future for a conspiracy with Benard Tapis. A guy considered for corruption a few years back and which I think was convicted for.. Welcome to politics!!

    May 19, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  9. Peter

    Of course a European should get the job.
    It is Europe that spread the dominant culture around the world, it is the EU that is the largest economy.
    Pretty obvious to me.

    May 19, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  10. Europe

    Europe wants and deserves some influence in world affairs. Nothing wrong with that.

    May 19, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  11. Antoinette Meijrink

    By the way linked in found me, but enemies are closer bhy so there I was again sitting on my back side thrown out of the vehicle.....
    I choose Mme Lagarde, for her protection the job has two more Directors.
    My other Candiddates are a Russian memeber and His Majesty King Abdullah from Jordan.. Mr Kahn could well be innocent. I keep an open mind

    May 19, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  12. Antoinette Meijrink

    When Linked in found me in 2009... I believe they could have gone public already... I want to see the sharp rise in shares on emmission day as a vote of confidence and not so much a bubble.

    May 19, 2011 at 7:38 pm |
  13. Antoinette Meijrink

    With a name as Fake for a Second I would have turned to the old spelling for Katrina... My eldest name is also Katherina??? A Nina Brink clue here??? History of Internet::: this could make you fail or pass. What was the first big INTernet Global shares bubble that was made to selfdestruct.???

    May 19, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  14. Antoinette Meijrink

    I hope Mr.Strauss Kahn makes Bail.... Acceptible offer . Would you walk away for a million when your house is 4 million and you couldn't go back to sell either???

    May 19, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  15. Antoinette Meijrink

    Debt Ceiling ???? You're in an open field ...

    May 19, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  16. matt

    ..........C'est la Vie.................

    May 19, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
  17. Beast48

    And hopefully, she won't be chasing maids down the hall

    May 19, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  18. john

    Why does this article feature such a sarcastic undertone of hatred against Europe?

    May 19, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  19. nedyfe

    She is well qualified for the job. The world would be better place for all when its in the hands of qualified women.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  20. GHULL

    great..they just screwed up one job...they need another..give it to some hard working idiot..who really will make a about giving the emerging markets a chance..they re doing a great job kicking the american and european butts..don't you think its their time yet...

    May 19, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
  21. Mark

    So you are saying that Europe promotes their candidate for their own reasons? this is shocking news. Please write even more about this, as no other country or collection of countries would act in their own interest.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  22. Kathyn

    I have only one question for the countries of the European Union and adjacent, but connected, countries. Given the pathetic state of your collective state's fiscal matters, why move such a complicated entity to you when there is so many problems in these first world countries? It should remain as is until you get your collective rear ends in fiscal order.

    In fact, didn't Portugal just get it's monetary redemption, which may not last long, not to mention Greece, Spin the wheel and see who's next, or who I missed. And please add to this very short list. Because it is important to know if your giving the key to the door of the hen house to the fox. Dud...

    May 19, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
  23. samvik

    I want an Indian as the IMF head- someone like Montek Singh Ahluwalia will be a great choice

    May 19, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  24. Edward

    Ok, John at 9:03 pm, would you prefer a direct and overt undertone of anti-Europeanism? Because the rest of the world is sick of Old Europe and their Europhillic apologists in America runing headlong into bankruptcy, and ruining it for hardworking people and well-managed econonies.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:43 am |
  25. IKE

    Why not give the chance to the emerging economies. Europe is keeping tight grips on the titlt for their own parochial interests. Obvious isn't it? Kofi Annan did it at the UN so think about it again.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:51 am |
  26. Frank Liberty

    KEMAL DERVIS is definitely the best candidate for this position

    May 20, 2011 at 1:54 am |
  27. John Grund

    Europe has ~30% of the votes in the IMF. US has ~16%. Europe might pay the most but they don't have pay the majority.

    The vote should be held freely and fairly: let the best person win...from whatever country

    May 20, 2011 at 2:02 am |
  28. Mauro Cardoso

    Chose someone based on competency. Why not Henrique Meireles our ex Central Bank President who passes Brazil from borrower to lender.Nowadays Brazil lends money to IMF.

    May 20, 2011 at 2:41 am |
  29. Saki

    This is silly, since Bretton Woods, an american gets the post of head of world bank and a european the head of the IMF. Pointless discussion

    May 20, 2011 at 2:43 am |
  30. eunhyun

    Legarde is an one of the most competent women in the world.

    May 20, 2011 at 5:01 am |
  31. Mastercheese

    The amount of financial assistance given by IMF to Greece and Ireland could have been given to some African countries. At least they would have spent the money judiciously and improved the standard of living. Greece and Ireland dug the hole and they deserve to die in it.

    May 20, 2011 at 5:52 am |
  32. Mannu

    Those who say India is 3rd world country are living in fools paradise. Come out and see, world has changed. INDIA will be superpower. IMF chief should be from India

    May 20, 2011 at 6:43 am |
  33. Maurie Sween

    Why should a European hold the job? Because Europe is in a financial mess? An argument saying that those who have led their countries into difficult financial times are the best suited to oversee the International Monetary fund seems absurd.

    May 20, 2011 at 6:58 am |
  34. Antje

    Mannu, India better focusses on their own poor. I.e. one billion of their own. Rather than thinking it will rule the world. It is a laugh. Ever tried working with Indian people?

    May 20, 2011 at 7:25 am |
  35. Koshi

    Why can it not just be the best person for the job? The Europeans and Americans caused the financial crisis, so maybe let someone else from another part of the world take a turn at running the IMF? Why should it be any particular country/region's prerogative anymore? The world has changed since Brettonwoods, and the West needs to recognize that. The longer the Europeans try to hold on to their false sense of superiority and neo-imperialist notions, the harder they will fall.

    May 20, 2011 at 7:59 am |
  36. MB

    Europeans have proved that they don't have the skills to manage their own economies. While their approach has been reactive at best, Europe hasn't been able to grow even with the abundant resorces they have. For instance, see the way ECB is managed. It's high time selection of IMF and WB heads became an merit based process open to all countries.

    May 20, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  37. cmmrc

    Paying the largest amount of the IMF budget isn't enough, Europe should pay 50.0001%

    May 20, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  38. Ali Siddiqui

    I wonder, what if afghan finance minister Omar Zakhilwal become IMF...!!! or any one from Tabliban :|......

    May 20, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  39. Willy Brown

    Giving Europe the IMF job is like having the fox guard the hen house.

    May 20, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  40. magin

    It's no good European or Martian, if IMF decisions continue with the same anti-democratic and anti-population and anti-economic stink around the world.

    May 20, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  41. Spud

    One think for sure we don't want an American,they couldn't organize a booze up in a brewery.Their free for all unregulated financial system is a total blight that will course havoc when it finally falls over.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  42. Herman

    Okay, but Europe does not ONLY consist of France!

    May 20, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  43. David

    There is a candidate from Poland who has already prooved to be capable of making difficult decisions. Besides Poland is not in Euro zone so he might be more objective than candidates from other EU countries. I think Leszek Balcerowicz is a suitable person for the job.

    May 20, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  44. Sunil Weliwitigoda

    In keeping with the new world realities:
    01) China should head the IMF and Russia the World Bank.
    02) Also, the UN Security Council should be reconstituted with Brazil, South Africa, Russia, China and India.
    03) The USA and the Eurozone countries must realise their new role as Third World countries and adjust accordingly.

    May 20, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  45. Nigel

    Give the job to a Brit..Never shall a frenchman have that job again!

    May 20, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  46. Kerry

    I don't see any problem with hiring someone from an emerging market such as Brazil or Thailand to rise to managing director of the IMF. I would oppose someone from China since theirs is NOT an open economy but a protected one. As for the comment by Sunil Weliwitigoda that "The USA and the Eurozone countries must realise their new role as Third World countries and adjust accordingly is a bit outlandish and embolden to say the least. I do agree that the arrogance of the French Finance Minister that she should get the position is equally ridiculous because Eurozone deficits are not just a European matter; they impact all nations and fresh ideas instead of the same old, same old protectionism coming from Europe needs due consideration.

    May 20, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  47. Ross

    1) Europe will get the job as it its there's by right and America will support them
    2) The developing countries over estimate their power at this stage
    3) The job should go to the British

    May 20, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  48. Estelle

    She has the skills and is well qualified for this job; i think that she deserves to have it.

    May 20, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  49. Dani

    Journalists in France say that Mrs Lagarde is about to be implicated or more into a big trial about a big ifinancial scandal, concerning the Bernard Tapie bussiness case. He is a bussiness man who was also a minister in charge of the urban policy.

    May 20, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  50. Antje

    What a laughable bunch of nutters shows up at these topics. Racist nitwits. Who cannot tell a mirage from real life. As if any of the named alternative come anywhere close to the USA or Europe.
    Nations who have have a billion people living near starvation want to rule the world.Let us all become poor. Except for elite who want to keep all the prosperity to themselves. They need the poor to exploit in slavery.

    May 20, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
  51. Darketernal

    The IMF is a institution that has plunged the World into bankrupcy. For anyone who hasn't seen Money = Debt, or Zeitgeist addendum on Youtube, it comes down to the fact that the entire monetary system needs a gigantic overhaul, which mainly focusses on the world as a whole system that needs to be maintained instead of maintaining the selfisnes desires of a few individual banks which eventually also themselves will collapse as a result of their own selfishness because they destroy the whole system!!! As for who should get the job, let's give it to my dog.

    May 20, 2011 at 9:11 pm |


    May 22, 2011 at 6:04 pm |


    May 22, 2011 at 6:17 pm |


    May 22, 2011 at 6:53 pm |


    May 22, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  56. ana petrov

    The perfect article! If we had any doubt about the reason why the Europeans want the head position in the IMF, now everything is perfectly clear. Thanks!

    May 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  57. sanjay

    positively european. soon they will require the money

    May 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  58. NewGBush

    Europe is in financial trouble. It is dangerous to give the job to an European at this stage because the European head may not make rational decisions due to political pressure from his/her own country. The job should go to a country which is not in financial trouble, like China, India, Brazil or Russia.

    May 27, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  59. icons designs

    Interesting variant


    September 24, 2012 at 2:04 pm |

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