US may side with Europe

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
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  • Updated: May 22, 2011 21:59 IST

The US might well side ultimately with Europe giving it the IMF chairmanship, which has fallen vacant since the resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, but for now it has said it wants to weigh all options it seems.

“We are consulting broadly with the Fund's shareholders from emerging markets, as well as advanced economies,” US secretary of treasury Tim Geithner said in a statement on Friday. He also called for an open and transparent process.

India has not yet stated its position on the leadership issue, though its deputy chairman of the planning commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia has figured in every list of prospective successors.

“We are watching the situation,” said an official in New Delhi.

These remarks came the day the IMF board met here to decide the procedure for selection Strauss-Kahn's successor. The fund’s 24-member executive board has a June 30 deadline to finish the selection process.

Europe has been first off the block, without even waiting for the jailed IMF chief to resign.

Just the day after he quit, German chancellor Angela Merkel staked a claim for Europe, saying the next managing director must come from the continent.

France, Italy and the rest weighed in. The IMF top job, had been with an European for the last 60 years. In turn, the Americans  got the World Bank top job.

Emerging economies such as India, China, Brazil, South Africa and Turkey have sought a larger role at the fund, campaigning successfully for expanded voting quotas, in keeping with their growing global clout.

They are pitching for the top job to prove times have indeed changed.

“There is no logic to the tradition that the IMF is run by a European,” Thailand's finance minister Korn Chatikavanij told the Wall Street Journal.

But Brazil, a leading constituent of the block of emerging markets block, indicated on Friday it might not be averse to going along with a candidate from Europe.

“There could be good emerging-market candidate, or a good candidate from an advanced country,” said Finance Minister Guido Mantega. “There should be no vetting based on nationality.”



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