Christine lagarde

A German court has plunged the eurozone into fresh crisis

An epidemic has been raging across the continent. The economy is in lockdown, and GDP is in freefall. But, hey, just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse in the eurozone it now has a financial and currency crisis as well, and one that is being made worse by the week with the shambolic management of the European Central Bank by Christine Lagarde. Today, the German constitutional court has, at least in part, ruled against the ECB’s bond-buying programme, which allows the central bank to print money and effectively bail out Italy, Spain, and probably quite soon France as well. You need to be a German lawyer – not

Sajid Javid has become the doormat Chancellor

Mario Draghi, who retired as president of the European Central Bank this week, was arguably the first holder of that office to win international respect for himself and his institution. The ECB’s founding chief, the downbeat Dutchman Wim Duisenberg, was undermined on all sides but especially by the French — who eventually succeeded in replacing him with their own Jean-Claude Trichet, whom no one remembers for much beyond meddling and posturing and the acquittal from scandal at home that freed him to take up the ECB job in the first place. But former Goldman Sachs executive and Italian central bank governor Draghi wrote himself into history on 26 July 2012,

Christine Lagarde’s conviction could play into the hands of the National Front

When Christine Lagarde stood before the Court of Justice of the Republic last week to defend herself against charges of criminal negligence in her handling of a long-running fraud case in France, the head of the IMF concluded: ‘I have acted in conscience, in confidence and guided by the general interest.’ But today, the court decided otherwise and announced a guilty verdict. The 60-year-old need not worry about going to prison or even paying a fine – and she won’t even receive a criminal record. Yet nonetheless the verdict is a serious blow for Lagarde, and the IMF. After all, Lagarde was supposed to be the much-needed steady pair of hands

The IMF serves up more Project Fear – and it’s working

Another day, another warning about the economic bombshell which would follow Brexit. This time it’s the turn of the IMF. In a press conference at the Treasury, Christine Lagarde spoke of the outcome of a vote to leave the EU ranging from ‘bad to very bad’. Whilst the IMF’s report said: ‘A vote to leave the EU would create uncertainty about the nature of the UK’s long-term economic relationship with the EU and the rest of the world. A vote for exit would precipitate a protracted period of heightened uncertainty, leading to financial market volatility and a hit to output.’ George Osborne was clearly grateful for the support of the

The IMF doesn’t need to be run by a European

How much longer should the IMF be run by a European? The job of the fund is to assist any member country which is in trouble, not to advance the dream of European integration. So far, since it all began after the war, the IMF’s managing directors have been Europeans, most commonly French. The current one, Christine Lagarde, is a French former politician, as was her predecessor, the socialist sex-maniac Dominique Strauss-Kahn. In her opinion, the needs of the EU trump everything, but that is a political view, not a financial one. It must be annoying for the scores of poorer, non-European IMF members — e.g. the Philippines, Mexico, Jamaica — to

The Spectator’s notes | 2 July 2015

‘The Greek people,’ the Financial Times leading article said on Monday, ‘would be well advised to listen closely to the words of Ms Merkel. The plebiscite will be a vote for the euro or the drachma, no less.’ It is interesting how menacing powerful ‘moderate’ institutions can become when popular feeling challenges them. In the eurozone theology to which the FT subscribes, its statement above cannot be true. It is not possible (see last week’s Notes) for a member state to leave the euro, any more than it is for Wales to renounce sterling. Eurozone membership, once achieved, is a condition of EU membership. So the Greeks cannot vote to

Martin Vander Weyer

This Greek catastrophe isn’t Lagarde’s fault but her career is starting to look like toast

The Greek drama took a turn few of us expected last week, when the world thought compromise was imminent. What happens after Sunday’s referendum is anyone’s guess — but recrimination is already flying, much of it aimed at IMF managing director Christine Lagarde. Having inherited the Greek headache from her predecessor Dominique Strauss-Kahn after his resignation in 2011, she has always talked tough — but now stands accused of setting aside IMF rules, as well as long-established blueprints for debt relief and the views of many of the Fund’s own economists, in order to stay aligned with the European Commission and the European Central Bank in the ‘troika’ of bailout

Lord Green must answer for HSBC’s sins – but maybe it was always too big to manage

Stephen Green — the former trade minister Lord Green of Hurstpier-point, who became this week’s political punchbag— was always a rather Olympian, out-of-the-ordinary figure at HSBC. This was a bank that traditionally drew its top men from a corps of tough, non-intellectual, front-line overseas bankers typified by the chairmen before Green, Sir John Bond and Sir Willie Purves. As the dominant bank in Hong Kong and a market leader throughout Asia and the Middle East, it was habituated to dealing with customers who took big risks, hoarded cash when they had it, and did not necessarily regard paying tax as a civic duty. But if ethics were rarely discussed in

David Cameron’s transatlantic election campaigning

This trip to Washington couldn’t have gone much better for David Cameron. Not only has he had serious meaty talks with President Obama about the importance of tackling terrorism and cyberterrorism, but he also seems to have the President on side when it comes to Tory-sounding language about the need for a strong economy. But it’s not just Obama who has been helping Cameron as he campaigns in the General Election from across the Atlantic. Christine Lagarde, whose organisation has not always been a friend to the Tories in the past few years, has given Cameron the best possible support he could hope for (as well as a slightly awkward

George Osborne braces himself for economic Ofsted inspection

It is probably unfair to say that the Queen’s Speech will have nothing to do with the economy: we are, after all, expecting a deregulation bill among others, which the Treasury hopes will speed things up for small businesses. But if George Osborne looks a little distracted today, it’s probably because his mind is on events outside Parliament. The International Monetary Fund’s team arrives in London today for the start of a fortnight’s inspection of the UK economy. The Chancellor must feel sympathy with teachers who fear the approach of their school’s Ofsted inspection. Like teachers who suspect their Ofsted visit won’t go their way, Osborne’s allies have recently started

Tyrie’s ‘only plausible’ solution to the euro-crisis

The European melodrama continues. The European Commission is to publish draft legislation to insulate taxpayers from bailing-out Europe’s sclerotic banks in the future. The plan is to give governments the power to reduce the claims of shareholders and bondholders so that any losses are born by creditors not taxpayers. These changes, if enacted, would ease Mario Draghi’s design for a European banking union. But, as ever with Europe, these changes will come later rather than sooner, as late as 2018 in fact. These discussions are taking place while another Mediterranean storm appears to be gathering. Moody’s is the latest credit rating agency to sound the alarm: downgrading 6 German banking

A diplomatic racket

In my Observer column on Sunday I mentioned in passing that in a crisis, elites have to be able to show that they are sharing the plight of the masses. Asking for ‘equality of suffering’ is too much, you will never have that, but there has to be a sense that — to coin a phrase — we are all in this together. Christine Lagarde had just lectured the Greeks on why they must pay their taxes. She was in no way inhibited by the knowledge that as an official of the IMF she was a ‘diplomatic agent’ and hence exempt from taxes under the terms of the 1961 Berne

The IMF is losing patience with Greece

Much ado about Christine Lagarde’s interview with the Guardian this morning — and understandably so. After all, the head of the IMF is normally so restrained and delicate, yet here she lets that drop. When it comes to Greece, she says, ‘I think more of the little kids from a school in a little village in Niger who get teaching two hours a day, sharing one chair for three of them, and who are very keen to get an education… I think they need even more help than the people in Athens.’ And she also stresses that the Greek people should ‘help themselves collectively… By all paying their tax.’ Common

Will Osborne stop at £10 billion?

On one side of the Atlantic, there’s Christine Lagarde begging for more cash for the IMF. On the other, there’s George Osborne more or less willing to hand it over on behalf of British taxpayers. This is how it’s been for months now. This is why it’s no surprise to read in today’s Telegraph that Osborne may be ‘close to agreeing’ an extra £10 billion for the fund. There are the usual caveats, of course: the Exchequer will only stump up if various other countries do likewise, and then the money has to go into one big pot for all the world, not into special mechanisms targetted at the eurozone.

What will Osborne’s offer to the IMF amount to?

George Osborne’s allies may be filtering across government, but what of the man himself? He was at a meeting of G20 finance ministers in Paris yesterday, and trying to maintain a difficult balance over the imploding eurozone. In part, our Chancellor was firm about Europe’s troubles — the area, he said, “remains the epicentre of the world’s current economic problems,” and he urged its leaders to come up with something “quite impressive” at next weekend’s European Council meeting. But he also tried to sound understanding — the UK, he suggested, would consider shuffling more cash into the IMF’s bailout account. The offer of more funding for the IMF was arresting

Lagarde sets about the Eurozone

When Christine Lagarde took over the IMF top job, it was widely assumed that she would simply continue her predecessor’s policy of almost unconditional support for Eurozone bailouts. But Ken Rogoff, the IMF’s former chief economist, has detected a hardening in the IMF’s approach. He thinks that Lagarde’s call for, as he puts it, “forced recapitalization of Europe’s bankrupt banking system” signals a new, tougher approach towards the euro-zone. As Rogoff says, the IMF’s previous approach to the euro-zone simply wasn’t credible. The idea that Spain was really at no more risk of a default than Germany was risible. But, as Rogoff argues, there won’t be a full restoration of

Lagarde’s appointment is a win for Osborne

The appointment of Christine Lagarde as head of the IMF is a diplomatic victory for George Osborne. The Chancellor was one of her earliest supporters, was the first to nominate her and hit the phones hard on her behalf. She will be a useful ally for Osborne in this position especially given how choppy the global economic waters remain. But the UK government also used the IMF nomination process to do some diplomatic horse-trading. The government made it clear that UK support for Lagarde was contingent on Paris agreeing that Britain should have to play no part in the coming bailout of Greece. There will be those who argue that

Lagarde three giant steps closer as Russia, China and the US back her IMF bid

The 24 members of the IMF board are meeting to see if they can agree that Christine Lagarde should be the organisation’s next leader without a formal vote. Lagarde has already gained formidable backing. 40 per cent of the membership had indicated its support before today’s meetings, while her closest competitor, Mexican Augustin Carstens, had mustered just 12 per cent of the IMF’s votes. The remaining 48 per cent is now concentrating behind Lagarde’s candidacy. Her popularity extends beyond Europe into the vital emerging markets.  Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin gave his signature today, saying that he hopes she will ‘secure reform of the IMF in the interests of developing

Meeting Christine Lagarde

The FT has been speaking to Christine Lagarde, the French finance minister tipped to become managing director of the IMF. A few salient points emerge from it. First, she has more than a dash of hard-nosed Gallic defiance. Responding to the charge of a lack of a qualification in economics, she reiterated the comments she made to the Today programme earlier in the years: “From what I know of the job, I think I can do it. One of the qualities that people recognise in me is my ability to reach out, to try to build a consensus, to bring people to the common interest while still being a very firm

President Lagarde?

When President Nicolas Sarkozy dispatched Dominque Strauss-Kahn to the IMF in 2007, he did it to remove a potential competitor. Now, however, the French president may be trying to do the opposite: use the IMF post to create an heir and successor in finance minister Christine Lagarde. Lagarde was on Today this morning, explaining why she was ideal for the job: “Firstly, because I want it… Second, because I can do it…. Number three, because I would be extremely proud to do it.” If she lands the IMF job, which seems likely, she will be well placed, as DSK was, to make a run for the Elysee in 2017, whether