WASHINGTON – Bulgarian economist Kristalina Georgieva was chosen Wednesday to succeed Christine Lagarde as managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
“The IMF is a unique institution with a great history and a world-class staff. I come as a firm believer in its mandate to help ensure the stability of the global economic and financial system through international cooperation,” the former European Commission vice president said in a statement.
“It is a huge responsibility to be at the helm of the IMF at a time when global economic growth continues to disappoint, trade tensions persist, and debt is at historically high levels,” Georgieva said.
“Our immediate priority is to help countries minimize the risk of crises and be ready to cope with downturns. Yet, we should not lose sight of our long-term objective – to support sound monetary, fiscal and structural policies to build stronger economies and improve people’s lives,” she said.
Georgieva, 66, will begin her five-year term as managing director on Oct. 1.
Though the IMF said in July that the process to replace Lagarde – who left to become head of the European Central Bank – would be open, Georgieva was the only candidate. And the Executive Board also eliminated the previous age limit of 65 to clear the way for the Bulgarian to run the fund.
By tradition, the IMF managing director is a European, while the United States chooses the president of the World Bank.
“We congratulate Kristalina Georgieva and trust she will be a strong voice in the fight against inequality and an advocate for climate action and gender equality. These issues, which impact heavily on growth, stability and poverty, require strong political leadership from the IMF now, more than ever,” Nadia Daar, the head of global charity Oxfam’s Washington office, said in a statement.
She added, however, that the IMF needs to improve the selection process.
“The IMF’s board calls it ‘open, merit-based and transparent,’ but it is too politicized for a non-European candidate to be nominated or succeed,” Daar said. “The status quo undermines the legitimacy of multilateralism at a time when we should be demonstrating its strength.”
After a 16-year career in academia in her homeland, Georgieva joined the World Bank in 1993 as an environmental economist.
In 2010, European Voice proclaimed Georgieva as European of the Year and Commissioner of the Year for her leadership in the European Union’s humanitarian response to crises.