The contenders for the IMF job

Steve Dinneen
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WHILE the IMF has not yet received a resignation from Dominique Strauss-Kahn, it is almost certainly only a matter of time. But with the IMF going through some of the most complex negotiations it has ever been involved in, the appointment of a strong leader to steady the ship will be a priority.

French finance minister Christine Lagarde has been picked out as an early favourite. She has thus-far declined to make any comment on the top job or the arrest of its incumbent leader.

Her credentials are strong and, like Strauss-Kahn, she has a vested interest in holding the Eurozone together, which would help to calm the nerves of the likes of Greece and Portugal. However, many observers would like to see someone from an emerging market take the job – France has held it for 26 of the past 33 years – as a signal it has grasped the shift in global power.

Acting managing director John Lipsky is seen as a credible candidate but has already said he plans to resign. His US passport would also count against him, with tradition dictating an American usually takes the World Bank job instead.

Gordon Brown may still hold a shred of hope, but David Cameron appeared to dash his plans to take the reins at the organisation, hinting he would veto the appointment, which he said was inappropriate given Brown’s involvement in the UK’s economic crisis.

If an appointment came from outside Europe, Indian Central Bank chairman S Sridhar would be an obvious choice, having gained plaudits nationally and abroad. His countryman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Indian planning commission, is also seen as having a real chance.

South African Trevor Manuel, a former finance minister and currently serving as minister in the Presidency, is also in the running.

Former Turkish economy minister Kemal Dervis, Mexico’s central bank governor Agustin Carstens and Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer have all been linked with the post.

So far, candidates have been cautious – nobody wants to be caught dancing on Straus-Kahn’s grave quite yet. This will soon change.