Asian Contenders for IMF Top Post Emerge

    Zhou Xiaochuan, current governor of the People’s Bank of China and Zhu Min, former deputy governor of China’s central bank. Photo by: Stephen Jaffe/IMF and World Economic Forum

    More names - among them Asians - are emerging as possible successors of International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who stepped down May 18 in light of the criminal charges he is facing in the United States.

    >> Dominique Strauss-Kahn Steps Down as IMF Chief

    IMF said its executive board will announce in the “near future” the selection process for the fund’s next leader. In the meantime, John Lipsky will continue serving as acting managing director.

    French finance minister Christine Lagarde, former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and former German central bank President Axel Weber were among those already being floated around as possible successors. 

    >> Top Possible Replacements for IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn

    MarketWatch says there is growing speculation over a possible Chinese successor to Strauss-Kahn. The news agency identifies two names: Zhu Min and Zhou Xiaochuan. Zhu is a special adviser to Strauss-Kahn and a former deputy governor of China’s central bank, while Zhou is the current governor of the People’s Bank of China.

    Another Chinese, Shengman Zhang, is also in the running, according to a source close to the issue. Zhang is Citigroup’s chairman for Asia & the Pacific and is a former World Bank deputy.

    The Associated Press lists other possible contenders: German economist Klaus Regling, former Central Bank of Brazil governor Arminio Fraga, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, and Tharman  Shanmugaratnam, who heads IMF’s international monetary and financial committee. Shanmugaratnam is also Singapore’s incumbent finance minister and deputy prime minister.

    The emergence of this list of new potential candidates, which notably includes several Asians, comes amid the growing debate on whether or not the fund’s next leader should still come from Europe.

    Developing and emerging countries have said they want see reforms at the IMF, starting with a non-European leader. Europe, however, appears determined to see another European succeed Strauss-Kahn.

    The European Commission said the next IMF chief should be chosen based on competence and not nationality and has urged the 27 European Union members to agree and field a strong candidate, according to Reuters. The top EU economic official stressed that knowledge of the European economy is an important qualification for a new IMF managing director, given the fund’s role in efforts to address the region’s debt crisis.

    Meantime, Karel Lannoo, who heads the Belgium-based Center for European Policy Studies offers this profile of an ideal IMF leader: “He needs at the same time to be a good economist - a good macro-economist above all - and preferably someone with a Ph.D., like Strauss-Kahn had a Ph.D. - he was welcomed on that ground four years ago because he had a Ph.D. in economics.  But at the same time, who is a good diplomat.” 

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    About the author

    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.