Lagarde, Carstens Shortlisted for Top IMF job, Fischer Bows out

WASHINGTON, June 13 (Xinhua) — French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and Mexican central bank governor Agustin Carstens have been shortlisted for the selection of the new head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the fund announced Monday night.

Consistent with its decision adopted on May 20 specifying the selection procedures, and the fund’s applicable by-laws, the IMF’s executive board said it would consider the two candidates.

Combo photo of French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde (L) and Mexican central bank governor Agustin Carstens. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, 67, a last-minute nominee and renowned economist, failed to qualify for the position with a maximum age requirement of 65.

“The period for submitting nominations for the position of the next Managing Director closed on Friday, June 10,” it said in a statement, suggesting no more candidates would be considered.

“The executive board will meet with the candidates in Washington D.C. and, thereafter, meet to discuss the strengths of the candidates and make a selection,” said the statement.

The IMF has set a June 30 deadline to determine the new directorship, which has been held by a European since 1945.

“The objective is to complete the selection process for the next Managing Director by June 30, 2011,” according to the statement.

The IMF’s top position opened unexpectedly after its ex-chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn stepped down on May 18 after being charged with sexual assault on a hotel maid in New York.

The IMF stressed that the selection of its new leader would take place in an “open, merit-based, and transparent” manner.

Carstens declined to comment on his strength compared with Lagarde in response to questions from Xinhua Monday at an event hosted by the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics.

However, he argued that the next IMF chief being a European would create “conflicts of interest” as European nations are borrowing heavily from the lending organization.

Carstens, a former IMF deputy managing director, said that the process of choosing a new IMF chief should be “transparent, fair and independent of nationality”.

The candidates for one of the international financial system’s most sought-after positions narrowed to two on Monday night, as Fischer bowed out of the race because of his age.

“The contract of the Managing Director shall be for a term of five years and may be renewed for the same term or for a shorter term at the discretion of the executive board, provided that no person shall be initially appointed to the post of Managing Director after he has reached his sixty-fifth birthday and that no Managing Director shall hold such post beyond his seventieth birthday,” according to the IMF by-laws.

Emerging markets should have a bigger voice in the IMF both in its management team and policy making process, Carstens argued on Monday.

As emerging economies have become a much more important component of the world economy nowadays, the IMF chief selection should be open to a wider range of qualified talents around the world including from emerging economies, Michael Mussa, a former IMF chief economist, told Xinhua.

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