BRICs Divisions Contrast With European Unity in Quest for Control of IMF

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International Monetary Fund

As reported by Bloomberg’s Shamim Adam and Simon Kennedy:

The failure of emerging-market nations to rally behind a single candidate to head the International Monetary Fund shows the effort still needed to link diplomatic might with growing economic strength.

As the IMF begins its search for a successor to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Russia is endorsing Grigori Marchenko, the head of Kazakhstan’s central bank, while the Philippines and Thailand speak favorably of Singapore Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam. India, China, Brazil and South Africa have yet to throw their support behind anyone even as they urge selection be driven by merit rather than nationality.

By contrast, European Union nations have given overwhelming support to French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to head the Washington-based IMF, the institution that approved a record $91.7 billion in emergency loans last year and provides a third of the euro-area’s bailouts. That left Asians, South Americans and Russia talking principles without agreeing on one person.

“The Europeans have the great advantage that they have institutional mechanisms to agree on a candidate upfront,” said Ousmene Mandeng, head of public-sector investment at Ashmore Group Plc in London and a former IMF economist. “The emerging markets may find it more difficult to identify a common candidate and then lobby to ensure that he or she obtains sufficient support from the U.S.”

As recently as last month the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China, known as the BRIC countries, were urging the U.S. and Europe to end their 65-year monopoly on leadership positions at the IMF and World Bank, which has always been headed by an American.

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