French woman is named Monetary Fund director

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is the International Monetary Fund’s new managing director. The 24-member Executive Board made the announcement Tuesday, more than a month after Dominique Strauss-Khan resigned after being charged with sexual assault in New York.

Despite objections from some developing countries, Ms. Lagarde emerged as the frontrunner for the fund’s top job. Mexico’s central bank chief and rival candidate Agustin Carstens argued against the European candidate, saying the 187-member institution should reflect the changes to the global economy. But the 55-year-old former lawyer fought back, launching a whirlwind tour that took her from Brazil to China.

“I just had extensive consultation as you know with the membership that has taken me to many corners of the world to visit with, particularly, emerging markets. It was a good occasion for me to indicate my vision of what the fund should be like going forward,” Ms. Legarge said.

The visits resulted in endorsements this week from the United States, Russia and China, which along with Europe make up the majority of votes on the fund’s Executive Board.

Ms. Lagarde has indicated she would be a strong advocate for developing countries, particularly those in Asia and Africa.

Ms. Lagarde helped lead negotiations last year that combined European Union and Monetary Fund resources to bail out heavily indebted countries such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Her appointment makes her the first woman to lead the fund since its founding nearly 70 years ago.

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