French finance minister Christine Lagarde has garnered
considerable support from Asian finance ministers and others at
the ADB annual meeting in Hanoi for what could be a bid to
become the next managing director of the IMF.
Lagarde has been rumoured to be among possible candidates
for the IMF job. And the respect she has gained on what some
see as a support-canvassing trip to Asia a region that
has long pushed to nominate its own candidate could
strengthen her chances, should she run.
ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda suggested to Emerging
Markets that Lagarde would be a perfect
candidate. Kuroda had himself been seen as a possible successor
to current IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, but
has recently expressed a desire to stay on as president of the
ADB when his current five-year term ends in November.
The issue is drawing attention because Strauss-Kahn could
quit his post in the coming months and return to France, to
seek nomination as Socialist candidate in the presidential
election due to be held early next year.
Lagarde told Emerging Markets that her attendance
at the annual meeting was an outreach trip to brief
Asian financial leaders on President Nicolas Sarkozys
agenda to reform the international monetary system under
Frances chairmanship this year of the G20.
Anoop Singh, director of the IMFs Asia Pacific
Department, said it was a successful
support-winning mission for the G20 agenda among
the important and increasingly influential Asian
But it was also seen by some as a bid to win support for the
IMF's top job. Indonesian finance minister Agus Martowardojo
told Emerging Markets that if Lagarde emerges as a
candidate for the IMF job then I will recommend it.
Her experience as an international lawyer and finance minister
make Lagarde a very suitable candidate, he
Bangladesh finance minister Abul Maal Muhith said: She
would be a very good candidate. Bakoa Kaltongga, minister
of finance of Vanuatu said we would have no qualms with
her and that: Im sure quite a number of more
powerful Asian countries would consider her
Three of these more powerful countries - Japan, China and
India - were more reticent, however, perhaps because of what
some suggest is growing competition among them to nominate
their own candidate to head the IMF.
Chinas vice finance minister Li Yong declined to
comment, and Indian finance minister Pranap Mukhergee said only
let us wait and see. Japans finance minister
Noda declined comment.
Former World Bank official Harinder Kohli told Emerging
Markets: I think right now they [Japan, China and
India] are trying to figure out a pecking order in
nominating a candidate for the IMF.
The issue is, would Japan, China and India agree on a
candidate, or not. Im not sure they have yet [reached
agreement]. In that case, by default, its going to go
back to the Europeans, said Kohli, who is now president
and CEO of consulting firm Centennial Group.
Lagardes chances of becoming the next IMF head, should
she be nominated, would be strengthened by the fact that
another possible runner, Britains former prime minister
Gordon Brown, appears to be out of contention. His successor
David Cameron recently expressed reluctance to support him.
Another factor, an IMF source told Emerging
Markets, is that the Fund has become much more closely
engaged with Europe since the sovereign debt crisis erupted in
Greece and elsewhere, and that the IMF now has three programmes
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