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Jour 1: Lagarde takes over at the IMF

Today’s Christine Lagarde’s first day in the hot seat at the International Monetary Fund. What’s in her in-tray?

The IMF's new managing director Christine Lagarde smiles during her final appearance at the French National Assembly last week.
The IMF's new managing director Christine Lagarde smiles during her final appearance at the French National Assembly last week.
Image: Michel Euler/AP

CHRISTINE LAGARDE today begins her new job – as the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, becoming the permanent successor to Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Lagarde arrived in Washington yesterday – Independence Day – ahead of her first day at the desk today. Lagarde’s appointment was confirmed just last week when the IMF’s executive board appointed her by consensus.

The IMF’s internal online magazine said that a “busy work agenda” awaited the new head, who is the first woman to hold the position.

Top of that agenda, the Times of India quoted the magazine as saying, was making the “difficult policy choices needed to help global recovery [and] address the euro area crisis”.

In particular, agreement on a second bailout for Greece will be a top priority – in the hope that any deal could put an end to the ongoing threat of a Eurozone collapse and a wave of sovereign defaults.

Another task will be to restore the public image of the body following the sexual assault charges that forced her compatriot and predecessor out of the job.

While Lagarde is likely to see some continuity, her political motivations are different – the two come from France’s two large opposing parties, and Lagarde is a ‘moderate liberal’ while Strauss-Kahn is a more ideological socialist.

Lagarde has said she is “deeply honoured” to hold the position, which she will take for five years.

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