Here's What the New IMF Chief Should Look Like

World leaders sketch self-serving qualifications for what it takes to lead the institution

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The resignation of IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has spurred an international race for the institution's next managing director. Europe, with its looming debt crisis, and Asia, with its emerging economies, have a strong interest in the outcome. And already, leaders from various countries are hauling out campaign-style talking points about what makes a great IMF leader and why their candidate fits that criterion. Here's the menu of desired qualifications being thrown around:

'Ability, Morality and Diligence'  With the middle qualification a clear dig on Strauss-Kahn's promiscuity, Zhou Xiaochuan, the head of the People's Bank of China, argued in a blog post yesterday that these were the qualities necessary for a leader who can ensure vigorous and stable growth in the world economy. "This would be conducive to having an International Monetary Fund managing director who can more effectively lead it."

A woman--since they're less likely to be accused of trying to rape hotel maids?  An odd, yet sincerely posited declaration from former IMF economist and Harvard professor Kenneth Rogoff. "What's happened with Strauss-Kahn underscores how great it would be to have a woman in the role," he said an interview with The New York Times.

A European--since that continent's the most messed up  German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave lip service to emerging economies while pushing for a European IMF head. "Of course developing nations are within their rights in the medium term to occupy the post of either IMF head of World Bank chief," she told the AFP today. "But I think that in the current situation, with serious problems with the euro and the IMF strongly involved, there is a lot in favor of a European candidate being put forward."

A European--since Europeans pay the most to belong  A spokeswoman for the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said it was "only natural that the member states of the European Union, as the biggest contributor to the fund, agree on a strong and competent candidate who can rally support from the IMF membership." She said they would likely choose a "strong European candidate."

Someone from an emerging economy  Pravin Gordhan, South Africa's finance minister, argued that the next leader should reflect the rising wealth of emerging economies. "Institutions such as the IMF must reform so that they can become credible, and to be credible they must represent the interests and fully reflect the voices of all countries, not just a few industrialized nations," he said in a statement.

An Asian--because they know how to deal with financial crises  Thailand's finance minister Korn Chatikavanij told The Wall Street Journal that an Asian would be ideal given the region's experience with the '90s Asian finanical crisis, which blew up in Thailand and spread throughout Southeast Asia. "There's no logic to the tradition that the IMF is run by a European," he said today.

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