Choosing the IMF’s Next Leader

Sooner than expected, the IMF will have a new managing director, and it will most likely be a European, as in the past. But whether the Fund's leader is selected in an open, transparent process, and continues to implement important governance reforms, is more important than who wins the post.

NEW YORK – Sooner than expected, the International Monetary Fund will have a new managing director. For more than a decade, I have criticized the Fund’s governance, symbolized by the way its leader is chosen. By gentlemen’s agreement among the majority shareholders – the G-8 – the managing director is to be a European, with Americans in the number two post and at the head of the World Bank.

The Europeans typically picked their nominee behind the scenes, as did the Americans, after only cursory consultation with developing countries. The outcome, however, was often not good for the IMF, the World Bank, or the world.

Most notorious was the appointment of Paul Wolfowitz, one of the main architects of the Iraq War, to lead the World Bank. His judgments there were no better than those that got the United States involved in that disastrous adventure. Having placed fighting corruption at the top of the Bank’s agenda, he left in the middle of his term, accused of favoritism.

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