June 15th, 2011
08:32 AM GMT
(CNN) – When the International Monetary Fund announced the final candidates Monday for the top job, Israel’s Stanley Fischer was left off the list without comment.
But two IMF board members told Reuters that Fischer – a late entry into the race – was not considered due to rules that limit the age of candidates to 65, leaving only frontrunner French Finance Minister Christine Legarde and Mexico’s central bank chief Agustin Carstens.
To be sure, Fischer was a late-entry, dark horse candidate whose candidacy was announced just ahead of Friday’s deadline. Fischer’s dual citizenship with the United States always was likely to raise questions, since the managing director position has usually gone to a European (although emerging markets are now loudly calling for a change).
Still, supporters of Fischer hoped his age would be overlooked in consideration. "I hope they find a way around it, it's not a suitable criteria in this day and age," Yuval Steinitz, Israel's finance minister, told the Telegraph on Monday before the IMF announcement.
Committee members told Reuters they turned down Fischer’s application because acceptance would mean reopening the application process to others over the age of 65.
"I think that the age restriction, which was set in the past at 65, is not relevant today," Fischer himself told the Guardian. "I was hoping that the IMF board of directors would change its regulations, not only for the sake of my candidacy, but also for the sake of future candidates for the position of managing director.”
It’s a fair point, especially in light of the epochal changes happening as the Baby Boomer generation began hitting 65 last year, the start of wave after wave of older managers and employees hitting traditional retirement age - at a time when retirement has become less financially tenable both for retirees and for governments supporting ballooning pensions.
Moreover, much of the public hue and cry in the eurozone has been over raising mandatory retirement ages after the Financial Crisis. And what agency has been instrumental in pushing fiscal reforms as the debt crisis spread from Greece to Portugal and Ireland, threatening larger economies like Spain? The IMF.
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