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IMF top job: Fischer questions Lagarde’s credentials

The Bank of Israel governor tells Dominic O’Neill why he was disqualified from the IMF managing director short list, and discusses the challenges that the institution and new appointee Christine Lagarde face.

WHEN GREECE’S WOES threaten the world’s second-largest reserve currency, the IMF needs an experienced managing director more than ever. Yet a man in undeniable possession of those skills – Stanley Fischer – was disqualified on the grounds of age. Instead, and for the 11th consecutive time, Europe got one of its own. Yet Christine Lagarde comes with baggage. She was close to one of the main interested parties in the eurozone debt crisis and she has been criticized for lacking the right management competencies to deal with the biggest short-term challenge facing the IMF today.

"Starting as managing director with Christine Lagarde’s background is not an advantage at this point," says Fischer, in an exclusive interview with Euromoney in July, only the day after the IMF announced that Lagarde would take on the role and as Greece passed new austerity measures to the sound of raging protesters outside parliament in Athens.

The governor of the Mexican central bank, Agustín Carstens, was Lagarde’s only rival for the job after Fischer was disqualified. Representing the emerging markets, Carstens made comments similar to Fischer’s about Lagarde’s status as a European.

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