San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica supports Mexico’s Carstens to be new IMF head

Costa Rica joined other Latin American countries last week in supporting Mexican central bank chief Agustín Carstens to be the new director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Costa Rican Foreign Ministry announced in a press release that it believes Carstens’ leadership would improve the global economic environment. Carstens, 53, would fill the vacancy left by Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The former IMF president resigned on May 18 after he was accused of sexual assault by a maid at a hotel in New York of sexual assault.

The IMF said its 24 member executive board would hold meetings with the two candidates before seeking a consensus decision by the end of June.

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, 55, is the favorite, strongly pushed by a Europe deeply involved in some of the Fund’s largest rescues ever.

Under a tacit agreement, a European has always led the organization while the United States fills the presidency of the World Bank. Carstens, a former Treasury Secretary for Mexico, and his supporters have argued for the need to end Europe’s monopoly on the job.

Carstens, an orthodox, University of Chicago-trained economist, suggested Lagarde could be too deeply involved in Europe’s fiscal problems to be the unbiased, unsentimental leader the IMF requires.

“There could be a conflict of interest,” Carstens, a former deputy director of the IMF, told the Peterson Institute audience.

In addition to Costa Rica, the Latin American group backing Carstens included Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Panama, Uruguay, Mexico, Paraguay, Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The region’s largest economy, Brazil, has not yet announced who it will support.

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