By arrangement, the head of the Washington-based International Monetary Fund has always been a European, with a bias towards France (five of its 11 managing directors have been French). That has led to increasing disgruntlement from policymakers in other countries, especially those with a newly influential voice in international finance circles, like China, India and Brazil.
Perhaps that was a factor in the decision of the IMF’s current boss Christine Lagarde, (French, naturellement) to nominate Lin Jianhai to run the secretary’s department, where he becomes the first Chinese to hold the job.
Wenzhou-born Lin will look after the operations of the IMF’s 24-member executive board, which serves as the main contact point for the Fund’s 187 member countries.
Lin’s appointment comes less than a year after Zhu Min was also made deputy managing director at the IMF. In 2008, another Chinese national Lin Yifu was appointed as chief economist at the World Bank.
“I’m not surprised by the news. As China is the world’s second-largest economy, it will naturally play a bigger role in global financial and economic governance,” Yu Miaojie, an associate professor at Peking University told the China Daily.
In fact, Lin has lived in the US for more than 30 years, reports the Commercial Times, having studied at the University of California for his masters degree and then at George Washington University for his doctorate in international finance.
But other Chinese newspapers were keener to point out that Lin still returns to Wenzhou every two years so as to ensure that his three daughters can speak the Wenzhou dialect.
AFP then reported that Lin’s nomination came on the same day that IMF bosses had agreed the outlines of a new voting structure that will better recognise the rise of the emerging economies. No details were available on how this new structure might work but the reforms are expected to reduce European influence at the IMF in particular. They would also come into effect in advance of a new round of fundraising in which member countries are being asked for $500 billion in extra support to boost the IMF’s capacity to intervene in financial crises.
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