Meaner Tougher IMF with Lagarde – by Stephen Lendman
On June 28, New York Times writer Liz Alderman headlined, “France’s Lagarde Named New Head of IMF,” saying:
She’ll assume “one of the most powerful positions in global finance as a worsening crisis in Greece threatens the euro currency union and rattles financial markets worldwide.”
Washington’s choice all along, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner endorsed her over Mexico’s central bank governor Agustin Carsten, her only competitor after IMF board of directors excluded Israeli central bank governor Stanley Fischer. Allegedly because of age, he, in fact, lacked support outside Israel, and US officials stuck with traditional IMF policy of a European in charge.
An American always heads the World Bank, yet Washington dominates all international lending agencies, assuring it anoints officials heading them, public discourse notwithstanding.
On June 28, a brief IMF statement announced Lagarde’s appointment, saying:
“The executive board of the International Monetary Fund today selected Christine Lagarde to serve as IMF managing director and madame chairman of the executive board for a five-year term starting July 2011.” China, Russia and Brazil also supported her besides America and most European nations.
Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne called it “good news for the global economy and for Britain.” French President Nicolas Sarkozy said about his departing finance minister, it’s a “victory for France.” Indeed so, as French banks are heavily exposed to Greek (and other troubled nations’) debt Lagarde is mandated to protect.
Her first move, in fact, was to back tough austerity Western banks demand, saying:
“If there is one message I have to send tonight, it is to say the Greek opposition must join a national entente with the party that is in power.”
A previous article discussed it, accessed through the following link:
Another explained IMF financial terrorism, accessed through the link below:
It discussed how the organization destructively obligates indebted nations to take new loans to service old ones, assuring rising indebtedness and structural adjustment harshness, including:
— privatization of state enterprises, many sold for a fraction of their real worth;
— mass layoffs;
— deep social spending cuts;
— wage freezes or cuts;
— unrestricted free market access for western corporations;
— corporate-friendly tax cuts;
— tax increases for working households;
— crushing trade unionism; and
— harsh repression against opposition to a system incompatible with social democracy, civil and human rights.
Key is that debt service tops other obligations, assuring bankers get paid, no matter the hardships imposed on working households through no fault of their own or that bailing out European banks violates the IMF’s charter.
In his June 29 article headlined, “A World Overwhelmed by Western Hypocrisy,” economist and former Reagan administration Assistant Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts said the IMF “is only empowered to make balance of payments loans, but is lending to the Greek government for prohibited budgetary reasons (so it) can pay the banks.”
The European Central Bank (ECB) is also “prohibited from bailing out member countr(ies),” but it’s doing it for the same reason. In other words, banker bottom line priorities supersede institutional rules and legal standards, making a mockery of governments of, by and for the people they don’t give a damn about and show it.
On June 29, the Wall Street Journal said Lagarde has unsettled legal questions at home, explaining that:
A “French criminal court (will) decide on July 8 whether to launch a probe into accusations that (she) overstepped her authority as finance minister in 2007 when dealing with a controversy pitting tycoon Bernard Tapie against the French state, or to dismiss the case.”
Given broad consensus backing her, expect the latter though at this time it’s unfinished business. At issue was her 403 million euro arbitration order benefitting him, not the government she was sworn to serve. As a result, French Court of Cassation (its highest court of appeal) Attorney General Jean-Louis Nadal ordered the Tapie dossier made public, including allegations that “Lagarde had indeed acted in a way to defeat the law….to help Tapie gain a favourable decision, against an earlier” appeals court judgment favoring the state.
Perhaps now it’s old news with Lagarde replacing Dominique Strauss-Kahn, forced to step down over allegations of attempted rape, an implausible accusation on its face. In fact, he was targeted for backing more responsible IMF policies.
Anathema to bankers, he endorsed “employment and equity (as) building blocks of economic stability and prosperity, of political stability and peace, (adding) This goes to the heart of the IMF’s mandate. It must be placed at the heart of the policy agenda.”
Not for Wall Street and other financial giants, focused solely on extracting maximum wealth for themselves at the expense of working households and nations. Lagarde is mandated to assure it. Expertise aside, her background shows ready willingness to comply.
In 2009, the Financial Times called her the best Eurozone finance manager even though her background is law, not economics. The same year, Forbes ranked her the world’s 17th most powerful woman. Her official and unpublicized credentials are broad and extensive.
Since June 2007, she was Sarkozy’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Finances and Industry. Previously, she was Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin’s Minister of Agriculture and Fishing, as well as Minister of Trade. Earlier, she spent years in America, initially in the 1970s as an intern for Rep. William Cohen, later Senator Cohen and Defense Secretary.
In 1981, she joined Baker & McKenzie (B & K), a major international law firm, practicing antitrust and labor law. In 1995, she was elevated to its Executive Committee, was then appointed chairman of its Global Executive Committee in October 1999.
From 1995 – 1998, she chaired B & K’s European Regional Council and Professional Development Committee. In 2004 and 2005, she was an ING Groep NV Supervisory Group member, and in 2004, she became president of its Strategy Committee, spending over two decades at B & K before returning to France as de Villepin’s trade minister. She also served as Board of Governors chairman for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, as well as a Board of Governors member at the European Investment Bank and Inter-American Development Bank.
In May, the Voltaire Network provided more information, excluded from her official resume, including her membership in America’s Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), an influential organization emphasizing national security and “advancing (US) global interests.” Specializing in crisis management, it’s also connected to the highest government and Pentagon levels.
There and later, Lagarde put their interests above her native France, including while heading (with Zbigniew Brzezinski from 1995 – 2002) ISIS’ Action USA/EU/Poland commission and the USA-Poland Defense Industries working group.
At B & K, she noticeably favored US corporate interests over French ones, including Boeing and Lockheed-Martin at the expense of Airbus and Dassault. In 2003, she became a Commission for the Expansion of the Euro-Atlantic Community member, in charge of potential Poland, Latvia, Romania, Czech Republic and Hungary investments.
According to Voltaire:
For many years with the above organizations, her actions represented “a case of conflict of interests. However, when the political positions defended by (these) groups….are analyzed, it is impossible to ignore that they are completely against the French position defended by de Villepin before the United Nations.” For her part, Lagarde “promote(d) the interests of the US firms, not those of the Old Europe.”
In his May 30 CounterPunch article, titled “The IMF After Strauss-Kahn,” Philippe Marliere, a University of London Professor of French and European politics, said:
As Sarkozy’s finance minister, it’s “hard to find one single decision, debate or policy that she has initiated or imposed her mark on. At home, her voice has hardly been heard in economic debates, let alone in political debates in general.”
No matter, she’s a club member in good standing, a neoliberal hard-liner, chosen to enforce structural adjustment harshness, starting with Greece.
Beginning July 5, she’s mandated to keep democracy’s birthplace in debt bondage, assure bankers are paid, lower its standard of living, impoverish most Greek citizens, sell off all valued state assets at fire sale prices, strip mine Greece of everything of worth, then replicate the process elsewhere, in charge of a financial coup d’etat against entrapped sovereign states.
Beneath her bourgeois charm lies a financial predator, chosen to wreck economies, not heal them. Throughout its history, IMF policies perpetuated debt bondage, entrapping nations to service money master oligarchs, surrendering their sovereignty in the process.
Lagarde’s now in charge to force feed austerity, well rewarded to ignore the pain and suffering she’ll cause, but don’t expect Western managed news to explain.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.