They like to insist on their old complicity. Yet few are aware of the content of the discussions between the former director general of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, and that which has succeeded her since 1st October, Kristalina Georgieva, former Deputy Director General of the World Bank. There is no doubt that the Fund's historical missions – promotion of international monetary cooperation and lender of last resort to countries facing unsustainable external debt – were among the topics discussed. Similarly, “Kristalina” endeavored to reassure “Christine” about her willingness to continue her action in favor of parity and the fight against global warming.
But the two women could not avoid an explosive and less consensual issue: Argentina. The IMF's $ 57 billion loan to Buenos Aires – the largest in its history – is controversial. “In relation to the country's slow-motion bankruptcy in 2002, the current crisis gives the impression that a Shakespeare play has just taken place in 60 secondssays Kenneth Rogoff, former chief economist of the IMF. In both cases, IMF lending only succeeded in delaying the inevitable, and worse still exacerbating the final collapse. ” While Argentina, which is sinking into crisis, is negotiating a rescheduling of its debt, this case will be the first test of credibility for Kristalina Georgieva.
President Donald Trump, who once did business with Francisco Macri, father of Mauricio Macri, Argentine presidential candidate (read page 48), put pressure on the IMF for Buenos Aires to obtain this astronomical loan with preferential conditions. Suddenly, Christine Lagarde finds herself pointed at. “These decisions are made collectively, the CEO can not be held responsible, it's too easy”, pleads Bertrand Badre, former Deputy Director General of the World Bank who believes that the former director of the IMF is an easy scapegoat. The critics of Christine Lagarde believe that under his rule the valves were opened too easily. It is true that the Fund has relaxed its so-called lending policy “Conditional” since the Greek debt crisis. Going up to do his mea culpa recognizing that the austerity imposed on Athens had even worsened the situation.
In any case, it is difficult to blame him for having been under the orders of the United States, first shareholder of the IMF. On the contrary, Christine Lagarde has shown rather pugnacity against Washington during his tenure. His main contribution is to have passed by the US Congress the reform of the IMF's shareholding, a request that had dragged on for a decade. As a result, the fund's resources doubled, with China becoming the institution's third largest shareholder. More generally, Christine Lagarde admitted to the US administration that emerging countries should have more influence on decisions.
Today, a new increase in the resources of the IMF is essential. Constituted by the quotas of the 189 Member States, its own funds – 650 billion dollars – are lower than those of the Bank of France. Given Donald Trump's apparent hostility to multilateral agencies, Kristalina Georgieva is likely to face the American veto very soon.