IMF’s Rodrigo de Rato Unexpectedly Resigns

This one came out of left field. As if there wasn’t enough turnover at the

top of the World Bank, now the head of the International Monetary Fund, Rodrigo

de Rato, has announced that he, too, is going to resign his job: his

last day will be in October, after the annual meeting concludes on October 21.

The press release

raises more questions than it answers:

"I have taken this decision for personal reasons. My family circumstances

and responsibilities, particularly with regard to the education of my children,

are the reason for relinquishing earlier than expected my responsibilities

at the Fund."

The education of his children? What, there aren’t any good schools

in Washington? I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, since this can’t be the

whole story.

In any case, if this news was known or suspected at top European levels a couple

of months ago, that would explain Europe’s (ac)quiescence in the face of the

US nomination of Robert Zoellick to the World Bank. They knew

that they would be nominating a European to lead the IMF in the near future,

and didn’t want to run the risk that their candidate would not be accepted.

The most qualified European for the job unfortunately is out of the running,

since he’s only just taken over as Prime Minister of the UK. With any luck,

the next nominee will spend longer in office than his predecessors: Rato was

in for just over three years, Horst Köhler was in for

just under four years. By contrast, Michel Camdessus was in

for over 13 years, and Jacques de Larosière held the

job for almost a decade. That kind of continuity helps.

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