FRENCH Finance Minister Christine Lagarde strengthened her lead in the race for the International Monetary Fund's top job after the institution discarded the candidacy of Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer and rival Agustin Carstens described his chance of winning as "slim".
The IMF said in a statement that it retained Ms Lagarde and Mr Carstens as the candidates for the post of managing director, excluding Mr Fischer, who exceeds the age limit for the job. Mr Carstens described Lagarde's chances as "quite high".
The IMF will meet with both candidates in Washington with the aim of making a decision by June 30, a month and a half after the arrest of former chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on charges including attempted rape. A Lagarde win means an extension of the 65-year tradition of a European heading the IMF, while Americans have run the World Bank.
"The emerging markets are not happy with the current guarantee that the slot's going to a European; I suspect this time they will be satisfied to make some noise," said David Cohen, a Singapore-based economist at Action Economics. (Bloomberg)