Not 1, but 3 flawed appointments – US and China dividing up the spoils

According to Reuters the IMF is making great progress in filling out its senior management team. It also seems to be setting new records for the number of appointment processes in a single month that can violate the international agreements for all senior management to be appointed through open, transparent, and merit-based processes. It likes like the US and China are already dividing up the spoils.

The US first, with an update on yesterday’s post about Meg Lundsager’s non-appearance for the Lagarde interview with the board. Sources inside the IMF have said that indeed Lundsager, the US executive director, did not attend the board’s interview with Christine Lagarde. We are told she was instead at a meeting at the US Treasury with IMF staff who are conducting the IMF’s annual Article IV consultation – a check up on economic policy that all IMF members undertake. Is that justifiable? Or does it show that really the US had already made up its mind to continue backing the gentleman’s agreement than lets them appoint the World Bank president in exchange for backing a European for the head of the Fund, and so attendance at the interview was optional?

Continue reading “Not 1, but 3 flawed appointments – US and China dividing up the spoils”

Interview with 24 men: little white lie or the US doesn’t care who runs the IMF?

As Christine Lagarde takes office this week she has been playing up the angle that, because she is a woman, change is coming to the IMF. Of course, Lagarde is the first woman to head the Fund, but she is also the 11th white European (out of 11 total) to have the role, and the 5th French national to head the institution. Since 1978, the IMF has been run by a French national for 26 of the last 33 years. I don’t think we can be sure how much change Lagarde will bring to an institution badly in need of a complete overhaul.

After her selection but before taking office Lagarde spoke to French television, saying (as quoted in a widely run Associated Press article):

“While I was being questioned for three hours by 24 men, I thought, ‘It’s good that things are changing a little.'”

Any journalist with any sense of the IMF structures, or the ability to use the Internet to fact check should have been a bit surprised at this statement. Continue reading “Interview with 24 men: little white lie or the US doesn’t care who runs the IMF?”

Acceptance speech dry run? Lagarde meets the board, gets crowned

Queen Lagarde with her European handlersThe IMF has released Christine Lagarde’s statement to the board for your reading pleasure. Like Carstens’, she mentions a letter of candidacy, although hers it seems is not publicly available. She covers most issues with broad brush strokes, opting for a focus on steering and managerial duties rather than presenting technical positions.

On the same day campaigners in Washington held a mock coronation of Lagarde to emphasise their disastifaction with the process and particularly the way European countries have acted since the DSK scandal broke. Sarah Wynn-Williams of Oxfam said: “The backroom deal that has pushed Lagarde forward makes a mockery of the appointment process. The new IMF chief should be elected openly, not crowned by Europe.”

In Lagarde’s statement, she outlined five key principles that she feels should guide the IMF over the next five years: Relevance; Responsiveness and surveillance for better crisis prevention; Sufficient resources and adequate tools; Increased legitimacy; and Diversity and team work. Many of the points here were touched on in an exclusive interview she gave last week.

It reads a bit like a management self-help book. None of it addresses in detail the policy questions set out by civil society organisations last week. Continue reading “Acceptance speech dry run? Lagarde meets the board, gets crowned”