Christine Lagarde - A New Hope for Global Stability

Written by Leslie Cameron  •  July 2011 PDF Print E-mail

Starting July, Christine Lagarde will begin her quest to bring sanity to the world financial markets.  As she accepted the position, she stressed that IMF and the EU need to resolve the Greek debt crisis and prevent contagion to other eurozone economies. She will also be supervising the financial bailouts of three Western European countries.

The first woman hold the office of Managing Director of the IMF,  Lagarde  further that she  "will make it my overriding goal that our institution continues to serve its entire membership. As I have had the opportunity to say to the IMF board during the selection process, the IMF must be relevant, responsive, effective and legitimate, to achieve stronger and sustainable growth, macroeconomic stability and a better future for all."

She was preceded by Dominique Strauss Kahn who was forced to resign on May 18 following an arrest in New York for an alleged sexual assault; he was exonerated due to lack of evidence.  Upon taking charge, Lagarde wants to restore the internal and global confidence people have in the IMF and unify the 2,500 staff members who have been distraught by the recent scandal and its bad press.

Christine Lagarde was born as Christine Madeline Odette Lallouette in Paris on January 1, 1956. Lagarde was given a scholarship from and attended Holton-Arms School, a private college-preparatory school located in Bethesda, Maryland. After this, Ms. Lagarde graduated from law school at University Paris X and received a Master’s Degree in Political Science from the Institut d'études politiques d'Aix-en-Provence (Institute of Political Studies). Lagarde has been in charge of the Institute’s Board of Directors since 2010.

Christine Lagarde began her professional career in 1981 at Baker & McKenzie, a large global law firm based in Chicago. While at Baker & McKenzie, Lagarde “…handled major antitrust and labor cases, was made partner in just six years and was named head of the firm in Western Europe.” In 1995, she joined the executive board and was chosen as the company’s first ever female Chairman in October 1999. Ms. Lagarde became President of the Global Strategic Committee in 2004.

From May 2005-May 2007, Christine Lagarde was France’s Minister of Commerce and Industry and focused on getting new markets for the country’s goods with an emphasis on the technology sector. From May-June 2007, she was the Minister of Agriculture. From June 2007-June 2011, Ms. Lagarde was the Minister of Finance; she was the “…the first woman to ever be in charge of economic policy in France.”

Ms. Lagarde’s current title as Managing Director of the IMF comes with the support of the United States, Russian, British, Chinese, German, and Indian governments. Timothy F. Geithner, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, expressed support for Ms. Lagarde and said “Minister Lagarde’s exceptional talent and broad experience will provide invaluable leadership for this indispensable institution at a critical time for the global economy.”

After she was appointed, Lagarde received messages of support from UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and her opponent Agustin Carstens. 

Leslie Cameron is a geo-political analyst for a securities firm based in Copenhagen.  She holds a Masters in Economics from London School of Economics, and has previously worked for a number of years on Wall Street for a major investment bank. She is also working on a forthcoming book on the recent financial crisis and its impact on the international political economy.

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