Strauss-Kahn resigns: Global fight for IMF top job

Possible IMF successors

IMF frontrunners

There is a range of possible contenders for the top job at the International Monetary Fund. Find out about some of them

Christine Lagarde

Christine Lagarde

French finance minister

France

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, 55, looks like the leading candidate with backing from France, the UK and Germany. A flawless English speaker, she was voted best finance minister in Europe by the Financial Times in 2009. However, her nationality may count against her as several IMF chiefs have been French.

Agustin Carstens

Agustin Carstens

Governor Bank of Mexico

Mexico

Mr Carstens, 52, is to be nominated by the Mexican finance ministry. He has spent most of his career as an economic policymaker in his home country, becoming governor of the Bank of Mexico in January 2010 after previously serving as the bank's chief economist. He had a successful stint at the IMF from 2003 to 2006.

Trevor Manuel

Trevor Manuel

Ex Finance minister

South Africa

Mr Manuel, 55, is well-respected in global financial circles, having served as finance minister of South Africa from 1996 to 2009. Born in Cape Town under apartheid, he was imprisoned repeatedly by the South African government for political activities in the late 1980s. He has yet to announce his intention to run.

Tharman Shanmugaratnam

Tharman Shanmugaratnam

Finance minister/deputy prime minister

Singapore

The 54-year-old has been the country's finance minister since 2007 and on Wednesday added the new job of deputy prime minister. With degrees from the London School of Economics and Harvard. He recently became the first Asian to hold the post of chairman of the IMF's policy advisory committee.

Montek Singh Ahluwalia

Montek Singh Ahluwalia

Economic adviser to India's PM

India

Mr Ahluwalia, 67, is an influential economic adviser to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and has been a key figure in the country's economic reforms from the mid-1980s onwards. He supports open markets and has pushed the government to end fuel price controls and remove barriers to foreign business. His age may count against him.

Peer Steinbrueck

Peer Steinbrueck

Former German finance minister

Germany

Mr Steinbrueck, 62, is a long-shot to become IMF chief, in part because he alienated allies of Germany with his fiery rhetoric while serving as finance minister in conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel's "grand coalition" from 2005 to 2009. He also alienated the United States by openly blaming it for the global financial crisis.

Axel Weber

Axel Weber

Former head of Bundesbank

Germany

Mr Weber, 54, stunned Europe by announcing in February that he would be stepping down early from his post as head of the German central bank, the Bundesbank. Like Mr Steinbrueck, Mr Weber has a reputation as a loose cannon. Both Germans' chances may have been sunk by their government's support for Ms Lagarde.

Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown

Former UK Prime Minister

British

The 60-year old former UK prime minister and finance minister has long been seen as a candidate for the IMF job or another big international financial post. But his successor David Cameron - whose support he would need - has dismissed him as a "deficit denier", adding that it was time to look beyond Europe.

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The list of potential candidates to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the International Monetary Fund is growing fast amid a battle between central European and emerging economies over who should get the top job.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is among European leaders who favour a European for the post, but emerging economies are expected to fight hard for a chance to increase their influence on the global stage.

The list of names from European countries include the current French Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde, and Germany's former banking chief, Axel Weber.

From developing countries, South Africa's former finance minister, Trevor Manuel, and Turkey's former minister of economic affairs, Kemal Dervis, have been widely mentioned, but Mr Dervis has now ruled himself out.

The IMF has been reforming its structure to give more power to countries outside the G7, but the current rules still give a stronger voice to richer countries.

Start Quote

If Europe can get the Americans on their side, then another European will replace Strauss-Kahn”

End Quote

Mrs Merkel said it was not the right time to change the status quo.

"Developing nations are within their rights in the medium term to occupy the post of either IMF head of World Bank chief. But I think that in the current situation, with serious problems with the euro and the IMF strongly involved, there is a lot in favour of a European candidate being put forward."

The IMF has traditionally been led by a European, while the World Bank has had US leadership.

But developing countries, with increasing amounts of economic power, are unlikely to stand by.

The Brazilian Finance Minister, Guido Mantega, warned: "We must establish meritocracy, so that the person leading the IMF is selected for their merits and not for being European."

Professor Charles Adams - former senior deputy director at the IMF and now at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore argues for a "competitive" selection process

The managing director of the IMF is appointed by its 24 executive directors for a term of five years.

They can nominate candidates from any member countries, not just their own. The final decision is likely to be reached by consensus as the IMF prefers this to formal votes.

The US, Japan, Germany, France and the UK are all guaranteed directorships. The other 19 executive posts are elected by the remaining 187 member countries.

Since the IMF's inception the system has given most of the power to the developed countries of the G7 - the US, UK, Germany, France, Canada, Italy and Japan.

But recent changes mean there will soon be two fewer European board members to try to boost the powers of developing nations.

Talented field

What is the IMF?

Conceived during the later stages of World War II, its main purpose is to safeguard international economic stability.

It has 187 member nations, and regularly reviews their economic policies, providing advice where necessary to promote development and prevent crises.

When a member country gets into financial difficulty, for example when it is at risk of defaulting on its debts, the IMF may step in with substantial loans to provide them with breathing space. This is what happened recently when the Republic of Ireland, Greece and Portugal were struggling with mounting debts that they could not afford.

However, the IMF's help usually comes with conditions, notably that they cut back government spending to help balance their books. In the past, this has made the organisation deeply unpopular in countries which have received its assistance.

The IMF's current acting managing director, Mr Strauss-Kahn's deputy John Lipsky, has already said he will step down in August, when his term ends.

Other possible European candidates include the former UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and Peer Steinbrueck, a former German finance minister.

There is some support within Germany for another European, the Swiss central banker, Philipp Hildebrand.

According to former IMF official Eswar Prasad, potential candidates from developing world economies also include Singapore's Finance Minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and Agustin Carstens of Mexico.

At this stage, the list is very tentative. Some names being touted are unlikely to even be considered.

IMF rules state that no one should be appointed to the post of managing director who is 65 or older and that no one should hold the post beyond the age of 70, something that seems to rule out the outgoing European Central Bank president, 68-year old Jean-Claude Trichet, Israel's central bank governor Stanley Fischer, who is 67 and Indian government adviser Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who is also 67.

The BBC's economics editor, Stephanie Flanders, says the job is still most likely to go to a European, despite the pressure to give wider representation to newly powerful countries.

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