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Why Stanley Fischer should head the IMF

The European stranglehold over the head of the IMF needs to be replaced with an appointment based on merit alone.

It is clear to all except Europe’s leaders that the time has come to rip up the unwritten rule that the head of the IMF should be a European national. The job should go to the best candidate irrespective of nationality and if that person happens to be from a developing country, so be it.

It would be a damning indictment of the Fund if Europe’s preferred choice, France’s finance minister, Christine Lagarde, was shooed into the top role without a proper assessment of her credentials and without consideration of other equally qualified people.

Names from the developing world being bandied about include Mexico’s central bank governor, Agustin Carstens; former Turkish economy minister Kemal Dervis; and Singapore’s finance chief, Tharman Shanmugaratnam. All are worthy candidates.

Yet Euromoney is mystified why one name is missing from the list of those being discussed. To our mind this person is the ideal candidate. He straddles the developed and emerging worlds, is a current policymaker, has private-sector experience, has a theoretical and practical understanding of finance and economics that is second to none, knows the Fund inside out, and is extremely familiar with firefighting financial crises. That person is Stanley Fischer.

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