The web is flashing with news, via twitter, Facebook, blog blurbs, and more that Christine Lagarde will take over as the next chief of the International Monetary Fund (-IMF-). Lagarde is slated to take her seat on July, 5th and will be the first woman to serve in that role. Perhaps fittingly, the French-woman’s appointment comes in the wake of the former agency head’s sex scandal. Dominique Strauss-Kahn was accused of sexually assaulting a maid in his New York City residence this May, and is currently legally confined to his apartment while awaiting trial.
Here’s more on the news of Lagarde’s appointment from a breaking IMF press release: “the Executive Board, after considering all relevant information on the candidacies, proceeded to select Ms Lagarde by consensus. The Executive Board looks forward to Ms Lagarde effectively leading the International Monetary Fund as its next Managing Director. Ms Lagarde, 55, a national of France, has been the Minister of Finance of France since June 2007. Prior to that, she served as France’s Minister for Foreign Trade for two years. Ms Lagarde also has had an extensive and noteworthy career as an anti-trust and labor lawyer, serving as a partner with the international law firm of Baker & McKenzie, where the partnership elected her as chairman in October 1999.”
U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner had also vouched for Lagarde’s appointment earlier today, saying “Minister Lagarde’s exceptional talent and broad experience will provide invaluable leadership for this indispensable institution at a critical time for the global economy.”
Lagarde’s chief competitor for the role was Mexican central bank Governor Agustin Carstens. Both were final candidates for the position and interviewed extensively by the intl. organization’s executive board members. Carstens held support from emerging market nation’s in Latin America and the Caribbean, but ultimately the traditional notion of a European IMF leader coupled with Lagard’s exemplary reputation proved too much for her challenger to overcome.
Having already established herself as a leader in the private sector as the first female chairman of Baker and McKenzie LLP, (the world’s 5th largest law firm) Lagarde should be well equipped to deal with gender related adversity she may face in the role, particularly from nations with less egalitarian views. The new IMF head will face imminent challenges when she takes her seat, as leaders will look to her to get to work on assisting in the resolution of the debt crisis in Greece, and implementing stopgaps to prevent future defaults from embattled European nations Portugal, Ireland, and Italy.
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