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Christine Lagarde's Rise To IMF Head

Christine Lagarde's Rise To IMF Head

11:04am 29th June 2011
(Updated 11:03pm 29th June 2011)

The top job at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is not just about economic credentials - it is also politics and, controversially, geography.

Christine Lagarde, the French finance minister, will succeed one of her countrymen in the post.

Her role at the heart of the eurozone debt crisis was probably crucial in securing the £320,000 (tax free) position as managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

In other words, she understands the most serious threat to world financial stability and has the contacts book and respect to continue a leading role in tackling it.

Ms Lagarde was a member of France's synchronised swimming team in her youth and was a high-achieving lawyer before being appointed the country's finance minister in 2007.

She played a key role in securing a 750 billion euro (£673bn) EU-rescue fund during the debt market crisis in 2009.

She has been a champion of eurozone solidarity, urging the likes of Germany and France to pull together to support weaker members.

Ms Lagarde was also at the heart of negotiating the restructuring of Greece's debt.

She had been seen as an early favourite for the IMF job when she secured the backing of European leaders from the UK to Germany.

A charismatic straight-talker, she won approval in America - not least after an appearance on the popular Daily Show and presented host Jon Stewart with a beret.

But it took until Monday for her to win the official backing of the US Treasury.

Despite all the reasons why she is right for the job, the 55-year-old has one cloud hanging over her.

She has said she was "completely unconcerned" by an unresolved legal case in France looking at her role in a 2008 arbitration payout to a French businessman.

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