Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Latin America and the Call for a Non-Euro IMF Director

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on May 30, 2011

by Roque Planas for Americas Society / Council of the Americas, May 24th, 2011.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s May 18 resignation from his position as head of the International Monetary Fund provided Latin American leaders with an unexpected opportunity to challenge the European stranglehold on one of the world’s most powerful financial positions. By informal arrangement, the position of IMF director has gone to a European since the institution was created in 1944, while Americans heads the World Bank. The arrangement reflected the political realities of the post-World War II world, but have little to do with today’s geopolitical realities and should be reformed, several Latin America experts argue.

“I don’t think that either the IMF or the World Bank should continue to be the monopoly of the United States and Europe,” said former Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorimduring a press conference at the Americas Society on May 16. “Of course, I would prefer someone from an emerging market, but it has to be a good person.” Using less diplomatic language, Venezuelan columnist Moisés Naím called the IMF’s tradition of appointing exclusively European directors “colonialist” and argued the Fund should instead adopt a non-discriminatory selection process based on merit. “In its daily work, the IMF demands that the governments that seek its financial assistance adopt market principles of efficiency, transparency, and meritocracy in exchange for its help. Yet that same institution selects its leader through a process completely at odds with those values,” Naím wrote. “[That policy] is now obsolete, unacceptable, and counterproductive to the cause of global economic stability.”

The IMF appears to be listening. In a May 20 press release, the Fund said it will adopt an open and meritocratic process to select its next director. The only requirement regarding country of origin is that the successful candidate “be a national of any of the Fund’s members.” If the IMF receives more than three eligible candidates by the closing date on June 10, the Fund’s directors will decide on a shortlist of three candidates. The Fund employs a weighted voting system slanted toward developed countries. “The point is that, if the decision is made to open the doors to non-Europeans for consideration, the Western Hemisphere boasts a level of talent that is genuinely world class,” writes COA’s Eric Farnsworth in The Huffington Post. “There is an opportunity here that should not be missed.”  (continue reading… )

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