Carstens admits 'uphill battle' for IMF job

13th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Mexico's candidate to run the International Monetary Fund admitted Monday that his French rival Christine Lagarde has the upper hand, but said he was trying to close the gap.

"I know that it's an uphill battle," Mexican central bank head Agustin Carstens told CNBC television.

"It's like starting a baseball game with a score of 5-0 without a single pitch having been pitched, because you know the Europeans haven't embraced the spirit of the process."

Few doubt Carstens's qualifications to serve as IMF managing director, replacing Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned May 18 to face charges of sexual assault in New York.

Economist Carstens, 53, served as the number three of the Fund from 2003-2006, before returning to Mexico City to become finance minister and now central bank chief.

But his effort to garner emerging-economy support to break Europe's 65-year-old lock on the job has faltered in the face of the aggressive, united European push for one of their own, the French finance minister.

"They went ahead and supported Madame Lagarde without even knowing who the candidates were."

"I don't have anything against Christine. She's a very dear friend and I admire her as a minister... I also think I'm a strong candidate. So at least I will make them think twice."

The nominations for the position closed Friday, with a last-minute third entrant, Israel's central bank chief Stanley Fischer.

Carstens was in Washington Monday to pitch his case with the US government, in a scheduled meeting with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

© 2011 AFP

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