Will the IMF change its managing director age limit to suit the Europeans?

The maximum age for a candidate to be appointed Managing Director is currently under 65 years old, and currently stipulates that this person cannot hold the position of managing director beyond their 70th birthday. However, rumours have been circulating as to whether the Fund will scrap this to shoehorn in a favoured European candidate.

Kristalina Georgieva, who is currently the World Bank chief executive and a Bulgarian national, is rumoured to be backed by the French in the leadership race. France plays a particularly powerful role in the selection process as Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister, is coordinating the European selection process. Georgieva is however 65 years old, meaning that should she be appointed, the IMF would need to change its age limit rule.

It was reported in the Financial Times on July 26 that France had floated the option of changing the age limit, but that did not attract support from the board on Friday . The Financial Times article added that “Nonetheless, people familiar with the matter said the age limit could still be tweaked at a later stage if Ms Georgieva emerged as the board’s choice.”

Just on the same day as the publication of the article – and on the same day that France floated the age limit change – the IMF published an update entitled “Frequently Asked Questions on Managing Director (MD) Selection”. The update had a section at the very bottom of the page entitled “How can the age limit be changed? When can it be changed?”, which noted that: “The Fund’s By-Laws would need to be amended by the Board of Governors by a majority of the votes cast. The age limit could be changed either before or after the nomination period closes. A nominee who is above the age limit could not be appointed Managing Director until the By-Laws were amended to remove or modify the age limit.”

Georgieva’s ascendance to the position of IMF managing director looks to be far from smooth, as a fractured Europe fails to unanimously select a candidate, as is customary in the illegitimate ‘gentleman’s agreement’ process. Europe is so fragmented over this that Le Maire was reported to have asked Germany for help “coordinating”. Moreover, in an interview with Bloomberg published on July 29, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s President, noted that he would support former central bank governor who now heads the Bank for International Settlements, Agustin Carstens, should Carstens be nominated as a candidate.

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