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Will Köhler turn the supertanker?

Washington wags used to quip that former IMF managing director Michel Camdessus wanted to be “the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral”. They had a point. Camdessus put the Fund on an ambitious course to be many things to many people during his 13-year tenure. That ended in February and today his successor Horst Köhler is getting back to core principles. He says he wants a leaner, meaner IMF. Now he has to deliver. James Smalhout reports

Köhler: back to
the core issues
and away from
"mission creep"

The contrast between Michel Camdessus and his successor as IMF managing director is stark.

Horst Köhler, the image of Teutonic efficiency and practicality, has already made it clear that he wants a more focused IMF that will do less, yet be poised to do it faster. The expansionary, even imperial IMF is out. A leaner, possibly meaner Fund is in.

Köhler isn't a politician, though several of Germany's leading political Figures were his mentors, chancellor Helmut Kohl among them.

Köhler instead sees himself as "a political civil servant, with the emphasis on servant," according to one former associate.

A skilled diplomat who has been tested with major responsibilities in the crucible that was German reunification, Köhler reputedly has a short fuse. "Endless talk is hell for him," says one source.

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