Lagarde takes the helm, but should the IMF change its course? - July 13

July 13, 2011 
"I take this job with great pride, great humility as well, and some trepidation," Christine Lagarde said at a press conference on July 6, the day after taking over as managing director of the International Monetary Fund. She can be forgiven the trepidation given that her appointment comes at a time when the eurozone sovereign debt crisis shows no sign of abating. Indeed, it has worsened, with finance ministers unable to reach a deal on the details of a second €110bn rescue package for Greece, fears growing about contagion spreading to the single currency area's third largest economy Italy – surely too big to bail out – and the decisions by the rating agency Moody's to slash Irish and Portuguese bonds to junk status. And all this in Lagarde's own European backyard.
Fifty-five-year-old former synchronised swimmer Lagarde began her five-year term as IMF chief after being nominated by the institution's executive board ahead of her only rival, the Mexican banker Agustín Carstens. The selection procedure itself has been criticised – Peter Chowla of the Bretton Woods Project, which monitors the IMF, tells that in his view "the process was far from fair, transparent, or merit based" and that European countries had "reneged on their promises to open up the process to more candidates". But Lagarde will know that the hard part is yet to come. ...