A look at possible candidates to be next IMF chief

Published: Thursday, May 19 2011 12:35 p.m. MDT

A look at some possible candidates to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn as managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

CHRISTINE LAGARDE: France's sharp, articulate finance minister has a reputation in Europe and other major world capitals as a tough negotiator. Lagarde, 55, speaks impeccable English and spent much of her career in the United States.

One of the longest-serving ministers under French President Nicolas Sarkozy, she made the country's labor market rules more flexible and helped France weather its worst recession since World War II better than many other developed countries.

The first female finance minister of a G-8 nation, she has a legal pedigree and is repeatedly listed by Forbes as among the world's most powerful women.

KEMAL DERVIS: Turkey's former finance minister is widely considered to be the front-runner if the IMF looks outside the European Union for a replacement for Strauss-Kahn.

Dervis, 62, is no stranger to Washington, having spent 24 years at the World Bank, rising to be a vice president. He currently heads the global economy program at the Brookings Institution in the U.S. capital.

As Turkey's finance minister a decade ago, he helped the country recover from a deep economic crisis with an IMF-backed economic reform plan, which set the groundwork for Turkey's strong economic growth and its resilience during the recent global economic recession. He also taught at Princeton University in the 1970s.

KLAUS REGLING: The German economist is head of the eurozone rescue fund set up last year that has already helped Ireland and Portugal with multibillion-euro (dollar) loans. Regling has international experience, having previously worked for the IMF in Washington and Jakarta as well as at the German Finance Ministry.

The 60-year-old served as the EU Commission's director general for economic and financial affairs from 2001 to 2008. He also worked at Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in 2008-2009, a valuable credential for a global financial leader.

PEER STEINBRUECK: Another German, Steinbrueck was Chancellor Angela Merkel's finance minister from 2005 to 2009. He won plaudits for steering Europe's biggest economy through the early phase of the global financial crisis when markets were most volatile.

A member of the opposition Social Democrats, the 64-year-old is viewed as a possible — though unlikely — candidate for chancellor in Germany's 2013 elections. Plain-talking and sometimes undiplomatic, notably in his sharp criticism of other countries over tax evasion, Steinbrueck has advocated restructuring Greece's debt.

THARMAN SHANMUGARATHAM: The 54-year-old has been Singapore's finance minister since 2007, but was recently appointed chairman of the IMF's powerful policy advisory committee. He's the first Asian to head that committee, which is made up of finance ministers and central bank governors.

On Wednesday, he also became Singapore's deputy prime minister.

Tharman was educated at some of the world's top universities, including the London School of Economics and Harvard. He began his professional life at Singapore's central bank, rising to be managing director. He joined the government in 2001, becoming education minister in 2003.

JEAN-CLAUDE TRICHET: The 68-year-old Frenchman has been at the helm of the European Central Bank since 2003 and is due to hand over to Italy's Mario Draghi at the end of October.

Trichet is widely respected in international financial circles for keeping a lid on inflationary pressures in the 17-nation eurozone and managing the single-currency bloc through the financial crisis and a savage recession.

His pivotal role in fighting Europe's debt crisis gives him useful expertise for the IMF, which has been closely involved in bailout programs for more than half a dozen European nations.

GORDON BROWN: Allies of Britain's former Labour prime minister say he would be the perfect choice to lead the IMF, but his Conservative successor David Cameron has dismissed the idea as putting a "washed up politician" in the post.

Brown may find greater favor among other European leaders, since he was widely credited for leading Europe's response to the market turmoil. His plan to plow cash into failing banks like the Royal Bank of Scotland has been praised for preventing a financial catastrophe.

Brown, 60, was Britain's treasury chief for ten years and has long experience in dealing with the IMF.

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