Letter writers to the fore: Not Europe this time!

A veritable outpouring of letter writing about the IMF has been going on amongst financial, academic and elite circles. Hardly a day goes by when the letters page of the Financial Times and other papers doesn’t carry something on the IMF. And almost all say the same thing, ‘not so fast Europe’. Lets review some of them:

First up is to note the Times of India leading article which calls for a non-European to be in the job. “For over 60 years, Europe’s monopolised IMF’s stewardship while the US sits entrenched atop the Bank. This cosy arrangement was fine when the West’s clout was unchallenged. That’s no longer the case. More so, in the post-Lehman world where emerging economies have helped the West beat recession’s blues by driving growth, providing markets and offering investment havens. ”

Professor Meghnad Desai, Professor Harold James, and Danny Quah were three of the 10 from the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) who wrote: “The time has come to appoint a non-European as managing director of the International Monetary Fund. The nomination process must be transparent and meritocratic.”

Lord Skidelsky, biographer of Keynes, writes: “The UK coalition government’s public opposition to appointing Gordon Brown as the new managing director of the International Monetary Fund is a woeful example of putting domestic politics ahead of the world good. Apart from the fact that Mr Brown would be the first Briton to occupy this key international post, he is by far the best qualified of those currently being canvassed as successor to Dominique Strauss-Kahn.”

Lord Stern, formerly of the World Bank and now at the LSE, wrote: “It would be damaging for Europeans to fix the job among themselves, vote as a bloc and, with a nod from the US, push their candidate into position. Such a deal would be fundamentally misguided and ‘anachronistic’.”

Jagdish Bagwati of Columbia University wrote: “Don’t let usual suspects decide on next IMF boss … Perhaps the way to widen the slate is to cut the link between nominations for the job and the governments.”

Next up is Professor Jean-Pierre Lehman: “I fully agree with Martin Wolf that she should not be selected, let alone shooed in, to head the International Monetary Fund. There is an additional reason to all the important ones he gives. There is a potentially quite dark cloud hanging over Madame Lagarde in the shape of the ‘Tapie Affair’. It is not necessary to go into the details here, but suffice it to say that Mme Lagarde may be investigated for ‘abuse of authority’.”

Mulyani IndrawatiA private sector bank Ferry Yosia Hartoyo wrote: “I agree with FT chief economic commentator Martin Wolf’s comment that “Europe should not control the IMF” (May 25). … As a market participant working for a UK-based global fund, I am writing in support of Mulyani Indrawati, the current managing director of the World Bank Group, as a possible candidate for the top position in the IMF. Her appointment would reflect a deserving representation of not only Asia, as the growing part of the world, but other developing economies as well.”

Funnily enough almost all the letters are in the Financial Times. The Wall Street Journal’s letter pages have been strangely silent. Perhaps the American government is not hearing enough opinions about the IMF selection process?

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