November 11 1999

US threatens intervention in race to lead the IMF


THE United States has hinted that it plans to intervene in the selection of a successor to Michel Camdessus as head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a move that could spark a fierce tussle between Washington and Europe over leadership of the agency.

The post, which M Camdessus will vacate early next year, has traditionally been held by a European, in a quid pro quo agreement that gives the US discretion in appointing the head of the IMF's sister institution, the World Bank.

However, with the IMF at a turning point in its history, "all bets may be off", in the words of one administration official, and the US Treasury has indicated that the US is angling to play a much more active part in the selection process.

"This is a very important decision for the Fund at a very important time. The stakes are higher now because the Fund's profile is so much higher," a senior US Treasury official told The New York Times, which reported that the US was "not necessarily ready to back a European".

Among the contenders to replace M Camdessus, who announced his resignation on Tuesday after nearly 13 years in the post, are Caio Koch-Weser, a German Deputy Finance Minister and former managing director of the World Bank, and Andrew Crockett, of Britain, the head of the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland. Others include Mervyn King, Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, and Horst Köhler, the German head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

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