Why Europe Can’t Lose the IMF

By Terence Roth
Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Will Greece default? Does Spain face a popular revolt? Can Irish banks hold on?

Little wonder that Europe is clinging to its monopoly on seating the head of the International Monetary Fund. For any number of contingencies, Europeans will need all the friends they can get inside the world’s ATM for countries facing bankruptcy.

Christine Lagarde, the French Finance Minister, is their logical choice to put the shine back into the IMF after the resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn for alleged sex offenses. She is widely respected and would become the first woman managing director.

More paramount, she is European.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s sudden departure left Europe stunned, coming right in the middle of discussions on how to keep Greece financially afloat. To do that, Europe needs the help of the IMF. The fund participated in the €110 billion bailout for Greece a year ago, and the rescues of Ireland and Portugal since then.

Europe likes the tradition that a European runs the IMF, just as an American runs the World Bank.

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