With a deficit more than 4 times the European Union limit and an economy mired in a deep recession, Greece hurtled towards insolvency.
Then-Prime Minister George Papandreou assured the world Greece was determined to confront its fiscal problem.
“We are making deep changes in our economy, our political system, our society, building the conditions for a stable economic environment, a transparent economy, a viable economy,” he said.
But those promises proved futile. FULL POST
In the opulence of probably the world’s most luxurious hotel, finance ministers from more than 20 Arab countries have gathered to examine the state of the global economy. They are also calculating the impact the debt crisis in Europe and the slowdown in the United States could have at the crossroads of East and West, the Middle East.
But nearly nine months into the Arab Spring, the finance ministers who are in charge of regional economies without the benefit of huge oil and gas reserves have expressed deep concerns about funding transitions in Egypt and Tunisia and potentially in Syria and Yemen.
The Chairman of the Arab Monetary Fund Jassim Al Mannai painted a picture of a prolonged period of economic uncertainty: "The fear is that economies of countries whether those that witnessed political shifts or those that are still witnessing political unrest today, will take a long time before they recover and go back to normal.”
(CNN) – Part of the backlash against this week's austerity measures in Athens stems from a breakdown in trust between the Greek people and its elected politicians.
But what the Greek government says and does now has little bearing on the country's financial future. As current Creditor-in-Chief the International Monetary Fund is the one setting the terms.
This begs the question: how much support does the Greek bailout have inside the IMF?
(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.
(CNN) – Another new week, another high profile cyber attack.
The International Monetary Fund suffered a “very major breach,” as first reported Saturday by the New York Times.
Details are sketchy on the attack, which was revealed to IMF employees last week but not made public. The incident reportedly happened before Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s May 14 arrest and his departure as head of the IMF, which assists in global financial crisis and is a repository for highly confidential financial information on its member states – nearly every country in the world.
According to the New York Times, the World Bank cut off its computer link with the IMF out of “an abundance of caution.”
“I can confirm that we are investigating an incident,” IMF spokesperson David Hawley told CNN by e-mail. “I am not in a position to elaborate further on the extent of the cyber-security incident.”
The attack appears to have used “spear phishing” – tricking the end user to click on a link, reveal password information or download a malicious program from a source that appears to be legitimate. The IMF hasn’t revealed any suspicions on who launched the attack.
Beijing, China (CNN) – If French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde enchanted top Chinese officials the way she charmed reporters in Beijing, she has a good chance at winning China's support for her bid to run the IMF.
At the French ambassador's residence, Lagarde flashed her winning smile and had the entire press corps in laughter with her witty comebacks and easy confidence.
"Thank you for the very straight question," she joked to a Chinese reporter as the room broke out in chuckles.
Lagarde came here for two days to talk to China's top brass - hoping to drum up support to become managing director of the International Monetary Fund after Dominique Strauss-Kahn unceremoniously resigned in the wake of a sex scandal.
It has the makings of an economic tragedy of epic proportions.
As Brussels battles to prevent Greece from becoming the Eurozone’s first member to default, the country’s crisis is talk of the town among Greek communities thousands of miles from Athens.
One year after Greece received a $158 billion bail out from the International Monetary Fund, talks have started on potential second package.
Money is still pouring out of the country while authorities fret about a brain drain – factors that are having a surprising impact on London’s estimated 400,000-strong Greek population.
Hong Kong, China (CNN) – So the gloves are off.
The four BRIC countries plus South Africa have joined forces to oppose the automatic choice of a European as head of the IMF.
This is significant step.
For the first time there is a unified voice from the emerging world to match the voice of Europe, now rallying behind French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde.
From a gaggle of un-coordinated statements from emerging economies over the past two weeks, comes a crystal clear - and powerful - voice.
A message jointly signed by China, India, Brazil, Russia and South Africa. They wrote: "We believe that, if the Fund is to have credibility and legitimacy, its Managing Director should be selected after broad consultation with the membership. It should result in the most competent person being appointed as Managing Director, regardless of his or her nationality. We also believe that adequate representation of emerging market and developing members in the Fund's management is critical to its legitimacy and effectiveness."
But the ball is still in their court. The next step is a candidate the emerging economies can rally behind.
(CNN) – As the International Monetary Fund (IMF) prepares to replace its disgraced former managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, e-mails obtained exclusively by CNN offer a unique insight into the mood among staff. (See below)
While Strauss-Kahn was busy penning a heartfelt goodbye letter sent out on Sunday, documents reveal some of the fund's female employees had already been calling for change: namely, for a woman to run the IMF.
Strauss-Kahn resigned last week as head of the fund in the face of sexual assault charges. In a note to staff, obtained by CNN, the economist said he is confident of being exonerated of accusations that he attacked a hotel maid in New York, but he could not "accept that the Fund - and you dear colleagues - should in any way have to share my own personal nightmare. So, I had to go."
The fund is scheduled to begin accepting nominations for his replacement, with a battle shaping up between Europe and the developing world. The United Kingdom said over the weekend it would back French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde for the position; a move that will likely appeal to women at staff at the IMF, who complained in e-mails obtained by CNN of the male culture at the global economic organization.
Urgently required: A senior level politician to chair international organization with a myriad of shareholders from around the globe.
Board members include the U.S., Germany, France, China and Saudi Arabia. Candidate must feel at ease with leaders ranging from Barack Obama to Wen Jiabao and have a wide-range of contacts from Wall Street to Shanghai and all places in between.
The financial crisis of 2008 demands this person would have an intricate knowledge of financial instruments, Basel III banking rules and monetary policy. The ideal candidate is a European that commands the respect of the Chancellor of Germany, embraces the G-20 architecture and has the backing of the President or Prime Minister of your home country. Female candidates are encouraged to apply.
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