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Philippe Maystadt: Washington bound?

After eight years as Belgium's finance minister, Philippe Maystadt is said to be the leading candidate to replace Michel Camdessus as director of the International Monetary Fund in Washington. Those who know him well think he may stay to win Belgium a place in European monetary union.

Will Belgium clear the final hurdle? Belgium's leap of faith  

In spite of his country's various economic crises over the past decade, Maystadt has won widespread respect as a reformer of the Belgian financial markets. In his early days as finance minister, Maystadt reorganized the government bond market and money market, established a system of primary dealers and carried out the first reform of the stock exchange.

In September 1990, Euromoney named Maystadt Finance Minister of the Year. Since then, his name has been given to the Maystadt Commission, which has been working on a range of further reforms of the Belgian financial system.

Maystadt is not an unexpected candidate for the directorship of the IMF. He has been chairman of its interim committee since 1993 and has lobbied for that committee to "remain the body for political deliberation on IMF policies and financing". He sees no need to change the role of the IMF. "The Bretton Woods institutions have successfully adjusted to the evolving needs of their members," he argues.

In particular, Maystadt has no time for the recent suggestions that the IMF should restrict its authority to monetary systems and short-term macroeconomic stabilization so that the World Bank can concentrate more on the structural problems of the poorest developing countries.

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