The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday formally selected Kristalina Georgieva of Bulgaria as the second woman ever to lead the 189-member institution. The selection had been all but guaranteed after the global crisis lender said earlier this month that Georgieva, a former World Bank CEO, was the sole candidate.
In acknowledging her selection, Georgieva spoke of tempestuous times for the global economy. “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,” she said. “This means also dealing with issues like inequalities, climate risks and rapid technological change.”
She is to take up her position as managing director on October 1, replacing Christine Lagarde, who is set to take over the European Central Bank later this year. Georgieva’s rise perpetuates Europe’s long-standing control over the designation of the fund’s leadership. She inherits the helm of an institution buffeted by the rise of populism in advanced economies and escalating trade conflicts — the largest of which has been driven by the United States, the fund’s single biggest shareholder.
Georgieva, who was championed by Paris, overcame a challenge within the divided European Union from Germany which had backed former Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem.
Under an unwritten rule, a European has led the IMF since its creation in the aftermath of World War II while the leader of the fund’s sister organization, the World Bank, has been designated by Washington.