Lagarde will be 'very capable' IMF chief: Carstens

28th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Mexican central bank chief Agustin Carstens, who lost out Tuesday to Christine Lagarde, said the French finance minister would be a "very capable" head of the International Monetary Fund.

"I welcome the selection of Christine Lagarde as managing director for the IMF, and extend her my best wishes and full support. I am sure that Ms. Lagarde will be a very capable leader of the institution," a gracious Carstens said in a statement minutes after the IMF announced it had chosen Lagarde to run the global lending body.

"At the same time, I hope that under Ms. Lagarde's direction, the IMF will make meaningful progress in strengthening the governance of the institution, so as to assure its legitimacy, cohesiveness, and ultimately, its effectiveness," Carstens said.

"I full-heartedly express my gratitude for all the support that my candidacy received from different corners of the world."

Carstens had sought to become the first non-European to head the Washington-based IMF since the institution came into being in the aftermath of World War II.

He earned the backing of Canada and Australia, as well as several developing countries who saw him as the best hope to represent their interests of the IMF's 187 members.

But his campaign never truly gained traction, and it was clearly sunk once emerging economies Brazil, China and Russia openly expressed their support for his rival Lagarde.

The imposing intellectual and physical figure of Carstens has been a presence in the halls of global economic and financial institutions for decades, and few doubted his qualifications to run the IMF.

He was a rising Mexican technocrat in the 1990s when the country was on the receiving end of an IMF-US rescue, one of the first to expose the dangers to developing countries of wild swings in global capital and foreign exchange markets.

Carstens, 53, is one of a generation of savvy US-trained emerging economy economists with strong links in capitals around the world.

He earned masters and doctorate degrees in economics at the University of Chicago, which has led to leftists labelling him as dogmatically bound to US-style free market principles.

But in the end the Mexican central bank chief, who already served three years as an IMF deputy managing director, was unable to overcome the support for Lagarde and break Europe's 65-year lock on the top job.

© 2011 AFP

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