Christine Lagarde is IMF’s new minder

In Europe, Christine Lagarde was recognised as a leading figure to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn as leader of the International monetary Fund.

She overcome opposition to a view that the post needed a non-European, and certainly not another French politician

Positive bias?

It is possible that my view of Christine Lagarde has been positively biased by a few interviews on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, in which she expressed her views on international finance. I couldn’t help thinking that the performances would have placed her as a serious candidate for political leadership in England, and how much I would have liked to witness a debate between herself, George Osborne and Gordon Brown.

Christine, George and Gordon

On second thoughts, not. Some thought experiments are best left to the imagination. My view is based in part on her capability to communicate financial information clearly and convincingly. Only later did I learn of a formidable track record of business leadership in the United States, and political achievements in France.

The challenge

The following is abstracted from various sources particularly drawing on Expatica.

According to French news sources

Lagarde faces turning status into real power at the IMF:

Christine Lagarde comes to the top job at the International Monetary Fund with international stature, a eurozone debt crisis before her and unfinished reforms from the financial crisis at her back.

In fighting the fires of the eurozone-Greece crisis and the dangers it poses to the global financial system, she comes well-armed, not least because she is fully fluent in English and at ease in front of the media. She now must dissipate concerns that she is a lawyer by training, not an economist.

For the past 18 months, latterly as a pivotal figure during France’s G20 presidency, she has been a high-profile and, by all accounts, highly effective architect of financial-political solutions. Now she must follow Frenchman Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned last month to fight charges of sexual assault, in guiding the world towards a new and more robust financial system.

Charm offensive

Lagarde won the job on the back of her successful record as French finance minister and also because of her deep inside understanding of the eurozone crisis, which initially will be the new IMF chief’s principal challenge. She played on her international stature and also sought to broaden it during a whirlwind, marathon charm offensive in recent weeks. Sarkozy first named Lagarde as agriculture minister in 2007 but, in a quick cabinet reshuffle, promoted her, in part for her symbolic weight as a French woman who had made it in corporate America.

Baker & McKenzie

Lagarde was previously chief executive at Baker & McKenzie, a US law firm, a rare high-profile success for a French citizen in the US which made an impact in French political circles.

As finance minister

As finance minister, she quickly showed herself at ease in international settings such as the Davos Forum. Lagarde was described by Time Magazine, in 2009, as one of the most influential women in the world.

Two months later, in part to fend off criticisms that Lagarde’s handling of the crisis privileged international finance, France launched a 26-billion-dollar domestic spending scheme. But the programmes were largely planned at the presidential palace and not in the hallways of Bercy, France’s finance ministry. Lagarde’s role was to promote the programmes, in France and internationally. This year she became France’s longest running finance minister for decades. Before her, there were seven ministers in seven years.

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