As Lagarde Courts India, IMF Job Is Hers to Lose

Barring a surprise, France's finance minister is poised to lead the global institution

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India is the latest stop on Christine Lagarde's global charm offensive to lead the International Monetary Fund. At this point, the position is hers to lose. During her day-long visit to India Tuesday, the French finance minister met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, reports the Hindustan Times. She came away from the meeting in good spirits. "They expressed positive views about my credentials and they are willing to consider my candidature," she said in an interview with a local television station. Meanwhile, the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) have yet to rally behind a single candidate to represent the world's emerging economies, reports Bloomberg. "The BRICS countries have also been consulting on this issue and the process is not completed yet," said South African finance minister Pravin Gordhan. "There might be something that comes out of it, there might be nothing that comes out of it."

Lagarde's main rival, Mexican central bank chief Augustin Carstens, has failed to win broad support, even among Latin American countries, as some doubt his ability to effect change at the institution. Meanwhile, Lagarde has won broad support in Europe and may be tying up the U.S. field, too. As Bloomberg reports, U.S. officials, including treasury secretary Timothy Geithner "may have little choice but to support Lagarde" to ensure the half-century old "gentleman's agreement" between Europe and the U.S. "Backing a non- European for the IMF could mean relinquishing U.S. control of the World Bank--an outcome members of Congress who decide on funding for development banks are not ready to contemplate," reports Bloomberg.

Begrudgingly, even Lagarde's firmest opponents are acknowledging her likely ascent to managing director. "Barring a last-minute surprise, it looks like the International Monetary Fund's shareholders will make the mistake of choosing Christine Lagarde," writes Reuters columnist Pierre Briancon. "It's probably too late to ask them to think twice--but they should anyway." Briancon opposes Lagarde's candidacy based on concerns that she'll deal with Europe's debt crisis in a biased manner, as well as concerns that she's unqualified. "In four years as finance minister, Lagarde has barely opined on global financial imbalances, China's currency policy or capital controls--all issues crucial to her future role," he writes.

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