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Lagarde Chosen to Head IMF


French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde speaks to the media outside the International Monetary Fund in Washington, June 23, 2011 (file photo).

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde speaks to the media outside the International Monetary Fund in Washington, June 23, 2011 (file photo).

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is the International Monetary Fund's new managing director. The 24-member IMF Executive Board made the announcement Tuesday, more than a month after Dominique Strauss-Khan resigned after being charged with sexual assault in New York.


Despite objections from some developing countries, Christine Lagarde emerged as the frontrunner for the IMF's top job. Mexico's central bank chief and rival candidate Agustin Carstens argued against the European candidate, saying the 187-member institution should reflect the changes to the global economy. But the 55-year-old former lawyer fought back, launching a whirlwind tour that took her from Brazil to China.

"I just had extensive consultation as you know with the membership that has taken me to many corners of the world to visit with, particularly, emerging markets. It was a good occasion for me to indicate my vision of what the fund should be like going forward," Legarge said.

The visits resulted in endorsements this week from the United States, Russia and China - which along with Europe make up the majority of votes on the IMF's Executive Board.

Watch a related report by Mariama Diallo


Lagarde's appointment is likely to provoke protests from some countries, but international monetary expert Domenico Lombardi says Lagarde's experience gave her the advantage in dealing with the potentially destabilizing effects of the European debt crisis.

"And one key factor in guiding this decision is certainly the ability for Christine Lagarde as a European coming from a key euro country to exert pressure, leverage on her European fellow finance ministers in terms of taking a more aggressive stance on the European crisis," Lombardi said.

Lagarde has indicated she would be a strong advocate for developing countries, particularly those in Asia and Africa. Economist Gustavo Bagattini says ultimately, Lagarde's background on the global stage made her the best choice to take over the financial lending institution.

"I think there isn't much question that Lagarde will be a very good managing director. She obviously has the experience. She has been involved deeply in the current crisis and pretty much fits the profile of previous managing directors of the IMF who have had similar backgrounds," Bagattini said.

Lagarde helped lead negotiations last year that combined European Union and IMF resources to bail out heavily indebted countries such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Her appointment makes her the first woman to lead the IMF since its founding nearly 70 years ago.

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