Lagarde’s Challenges

Now that the dust has settled over the selection of the IMF’s managing director, the Fund can return to its core business of managing crises. But Christine Lagarde, a competent and well-regarded technocrat, will have her hands full with three important tasks.

CHICAGO – Now that the dust has settled over the selection of the International Monetary Fund’s managing director, the IMF can return to its core business of managing crises. Christine Lagarde, a competent and well-regarded technocrat, will have her hands full with three important challenges.

The first, and probably easiest, challenge is to restore the IMF’s public image. While the criminal case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn on sexual-assault charges now seems highly uncertain, the ensuing press focus on the IMF suggests an uncontrolled international bureaucracy with unlimited expense accounts, dominated by men with little sense of restraint.

Fortunately, the truth is more prosaic. Top IMF staff face strict limits on their allowable business expenses (no $3,000 per night hotel rooms, despite reports in the press), and are generally underpaid relative to private-sector executives with similar skills and experience.

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