On the day that Alistair Darling, writing in The Observer, declares Lagarde is the "right choice" for the IMF we publish this contrary view. Dr Azeem Ibrahim is a Fellow and Member of the Board of Directors at the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding and a former Research Scholar at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and World Fellow at Yale.
The new IMF chief, Christine Lagarde, started work this week as what The Economist called “chief firefighter.” The Greek debt crisis will surely be on top of her agenda as she continues the bailout policies established by her predecessor. A consensus vote confirmed her candidacy following the ignominious departure of disgraced Dominique Strauss-Kahn, with the eventual support of the US, China and Russia.
Many IMF members feel that the time has come to end the deal established in Bretton Woods in 1944, where the US gets the leadership of the World Bank and the IMF leadership goes to a European. With 43% of the IMF capital now provided by emerging countries, they are entitled to have more say in IMF leadership and should expect to in the future.
However, as Patrick Stewart of the Council on Foreign Relations wrote recently (6/2/11): “The apparent lesson of this episode is that while emerging powers are quite content to criticize existing global institutional arrangements, they do not yet constitute an effective bloc that can unite behind an agreed program of action.”
Perhaps Mme. Lagarde will be a one-term IMF leader and will use the position as a stepping stone to the French Presidency in 2017 whether Sarkozy wins in 2012 or not. When Sarkozy sent Strauss-Kahn to the IMF in 2007, he was removing a potential competitor. Now with Mme. Lagarde, he may be grooming a potential heir and successor.