Few were surprised when French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde was appointed to the head of the International Monetary Fund yesterday.
Lagarde beat out Mexico’s Agustin Carsters to replace Dominique Strauss Kahn, who is currently facing attempted rape charges in New York City.
The Sydney Morning Herald outlined the main challenge Lagarde will face as head of the 187-nation IMF:
“European leaders have committed to a new three-year program for Greece to stave off default, including a voluntary debt rollover by banks, as long as Prime Minister George Papandreou pushes through a €78 billion ($106.5 billion) package of budget cuts as early as today. While the IMF has pledged to provide a third of the bailouts, it hasn’t acknowledged the need for a new one, asking Greece to first take its austerity steps and European nations to agree on their own funding plan.”
As the first woman ever to head the IMF, Lagarde also faces the obstacle of improving diversity within the organization. The San Fransico Gate put it succinctly:
“She’ll also need to restore morale at the fund, which is reeling from the arrest on charges of sexual assault and subsequent resignation of her predecessor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn. He has pleaded not guilty.”
It’s nothing new for the 55-year-old Lagarde, who earned a reputation for financial and diplomatic savvy during negotiations with the European Union and Group of 20 over bail-outs for Portugal, Ireland and Greece.
In fact, Lagarde was the first and only female finance chief for the Group of Seven nations, and the first female charmain of Baker & Mackenzie, the world’s fifth biggest law firm.
What do you think of Lagarde’s victory? Should the position have gone to a leader from the developing world?
Read more about famous French figures in the latest issue of the Carnet Atlantique.