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Lagarde and Carstens await IMF decision

Lagarde and Carstens await IMF decision

Lagarde and Carstens await IMF decision

Christine Lagarde and Agustin Carstens are just playing the waiting game now as the executive board of the International Monetary Fund mull over their interviews and presentations ahead of a meeting next week, during which its members will decide who to appoint to the top job at the fund.

French finance minister Lagarde, who is the runaway favourite to get the position, made a presentation to the board yesterday, while Mexican Central Bank chief Agustin Carstens had his interview on Tuesday.

A. Shakour Shaalan, dean of the executive board said the meetings were opportunities for the pair to present all relevant information concerning their respective candidacies.

In a statement last night he said, “The Board plans to meet early next week to discuss the strengths of each candidate, with the aim of completing the selection process by June 30.”

Although the board may select a Managing Director by a majority vote, it hopes to reach a unanimous decision.

During her presentation, Lagarde said “being French and being European should be neither an advantage nor a handicap” to her candidacy.

She spoke in response to some objections by emerging economies that the next managing director should not automatically be a European. Since the establishment of the fund 65 years ago, the MD has been from Europe.

“I am not here to represent the interest of any given region of the world,” she added.

However, she did say that as a woman she hopes her candidacy and possible appointment would add to the “diversity” and “balance” of the organisation. If given the job, she would become the first female head of the Fund.

During her pitch she said she was a proven lawyer, finance minister and chair of the EU’s Ecofin Council.

“I would strive, over the next five years, to build a Fund that would be adapted to a changing world; responsive, ready and able to meet all challenges, both foreseeable and unforeseeable; cooperative, listening and coordinating effectively with all stakeholders, and continuously striving to build consensus; legitimate and even-handed, to reflect a changing world,” she concluded.

Earlier this week, Carstens also made his statement to the IMF board. The 53-year-old has worked at the IMF previously, most recently as its deputy managing director from 2003 to 2006.

He is seen as the candidate representing the world’s emerging markets.

Concluding his speech, Carstens said the fund needs an MD who can provide strategic direction to the institution at this crucial moment.

“It is vital that the Fund send the strongest signal that, by virtue of its leadership, it is not lagging behind, but one step ahead of global developments, so that it may continue to flourish in serving all of its members,” he said.

Yesterday, Carstens met with US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner but the country has given no indication which way it will vote on the appointment.

In the past, the US has always voted for a European candidate. There is an unofficial and unwritten agreement between the two regions that the US holds the leadership of the World Bank, while a European heads its sister organisation, the IMF.