Foreign Policy Blogs

Who Should Replace Strauss-Kahn as the Head of the IMF?

The whole world became aware last week of the accusations against the head of the IMF, French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn when he was arrested for sexually assaulting a hotel maid in New York recently. Video and pictures of Mr. Strauss-Kahn in handcuffs and in court were blitzed across world media this week and the story about Mr. Strauss-Kahn being pulled off an outbound flight and denied bail due to a strong possibility of Mr. Strauss-Kahn being a flight risk has most likely destroyed his political career and his opportunity at defeating Sarkozy in the next French Presidential election. While he remains as the head of the IMF and has received praise for his actions to help quell the European debt crisis, his position at the IMF will soon be vacant and chatter about who might replace him has been of great interest to all donator and receiver countries of IMF assistance.

While Strauss-Kahn supporters, who make up a large percentage of the French electorate, claim that the accusations against Strauss-Kahn were designed to ruin his reputation, it must be remembered that there was a victim of the assault and that the case has to do with that individual and their rights to not have anyone violate their personal privacy and dignity as opposed to the reputation of Strauss-Kahn who was the alleged aggressor in this case. Even though the head of the IMF has a lot of power and funds behind his name, the victim should have her full rights recognised as no one has the right to assault her or touch her without her permission. Wealth and background does not give anyone the right to assault anyone, no matter what their wage is or their background is or whether or not they speak a different language. Strauss-Kahn was arrested in a country with a fair balance of rights and justice, and we must let the process take its course so that the victim and Strauss-Kahn can manage the issue at hand, no one has the right to stop this process until its completion.

Regarding replacing Mr. Strauss-Kahn, many suggestions have been put out in the media to who might be asked to take the position as the head of the IMF. A push for a non-European head of the IMF has come from suggestions that another European minister should take the position due to the complications of the current needs of the European economy. Christine Lagarde was suggested by France and some have suggested former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, but with the succession of French politicians at the head of the IMF and the lack of support for Mr. Brown even within the UK as seen in the last election, the suggestion from many BRICS nations that a non-European or American should head up the IMF in this new era might get a lot of traction as China, India and Brazil increasingly put their funds into the IMF over the next few generations.

A few political leaders that have yet to be suggested comes to my mind when deciding on an appropriate IMF chief that have yet to be suggested in the general media. I encourage all readers to give their supporting view or critical views on my suggestions, but any discussion is welcomed on these choices.

Despite being an important commentator and supporter of other Canadians to take the position, I believe former Prime Minister of Canada Mr. Paul Martin would himself be a great choice to head up the IMF. While coming from a Western country, Canada is neither tied to Europe or the US or the Developing world and Mr. Martin has contributed to the general healthy state of Canada’s economy that allowed it to weather the economic storm of 2008-2009. He is best known as Canada’s great finance minister by all political colours in Canada and is no longer serving as an elected representative. A good balanced choice in Mr. Paul Martin.

Vicente Fox was one of the designers of Mexico’s current growing economy as well as the first elected leader in Mexico to have his party elected after over 75 years of one party rule in Mexico. His six years as the President of Mexico lead to the beginning of institutional change in the country and a re-engagement of Mexico towards the US and the rest of the world. As the President of Mexico, a country which heavily relied on foreign assistance during its own economic crisis, Mr. Fox has personal knowledge of working in an economy dependent on foreign aid which is industrialised and developing but is constrained by economic gremlins. What is a better choice than a leader of a country that has received IMF or IMF style loans and has had to pull their country through that process to a position of economic independence, a good choice in Mr. Fox.

While best known for his actions to fight narco terrorism in his home country of Colombia, recently stepped down from the Presidency, Alvaro Uribe is known for being able to pull Colombia back into economic health during his Presidency and would be a good economic manager of the IMF. Despite criticism for his alleged abuses against labour leaders and hiring security forces that lacked accountability in many operations, Uribe has a great resume for the position and is a suitable choice to be a non-European IMF chief. Also with a strong political opposition, former Brazilian President Ignacio Lula Da Silva had moved Brazil from a developing economy which was a major IMF recipient towards being one of the world’s mega-economies. While Lula has a great resume for the position, his vocal support of non-Western powers regarding security issues and vocal support for labour ideals and anti-IMF conditions might create too much opposition for Lula. As Uribe, Lula might be a perfect candidate with not enough support.

A candidate for the head of the IMF without the heavy opposition to someone like Uribe or Lula, is former Brazilian President F.H Cardoso. Many credit Brazil’s decade of growth to the policies of President Cardoso that were maintained after the election of Lula and his PT party. Brazil’s growth and pull away from an IMF recipient towards a likely future IMF lender has a lot to do with Cardoso’s economic plan which in many ways is still in effect in Brazil. Like other IMF candidates from the Americas, placing Cardoso in the position will satisfy the critics that demand a non-European IMF chief while placing the main processes of the IMF in the hands of a leader who has dealt with IMF loans while managing their economies under the theories of the IMF approach.

Another candidate and someone who maintained the tenants of the IMF while managing a non-European nation who had depended on IMF loans is the former head of Argentina’s Central Bank, Dr Hernan Martin Perez Redrado.Last year Dr. Redrado was removed as the head of Argentina’s Central Bank for restricting the Kirchner government from taking funds from the Bank to pay off part of its national debt from the debt agreements made after the 2001 economic collapse in Argentina. While debated by many if Redrado made the right decision to keep strict controls on spending and challenging the President himself on the issue, tight spending controls and fighting spending by even those on the top echelons of a nation’s political elite shows a tight parallel with IMF lending policies. The issue was so contested and offended President Kirchner so deeply that it cost Redrado his job. While appointing Redrado would be considered contreversial by all those on the political spectrum, he might be an example of the type of non-European Finance Minister that the IMF could handle in the immediate term and depend on in the long term. Having seen him speak in person, I cannot comment on his political rivalry with President Cristina Kirchner, but his economic theory I believe has paid off, and would pay off as the head of the IMF. Please feel free to volunteer your own choices for the position from any region worldwide.



Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration