Who Needs the French? Or, For That Matter, the IMF?
Last week, you'll recall, French finance minister Christine Lagarde announced her candidacy to replace her countryman Dominique Strauss-Kahn, now modeling ankle bracelets in Manhattan, as chairman of the International Monetary Fund.
After spending a few moments looking at the performance of the French economy, I have a question. Why on earth would any member of the IMF vote for her?
Take a look at this chart, assembled from World Bank data, comparing economic growth over the last half century in France (the red line), the United States (dark grey), China (light grey), Brazil (mustard), and India (light blue). Over the entire period, French economic growth has proven only middling--and over the last decade growth in France has fallen far behind that in China, India, and Brazil.
If the IMF truly wishes to devote itself to fostering economic growth, then it needs to look for a chairman someplace other than France. Because the only argument for Christine Lagarde is this one: That the IMF sees its purpose not as fostering global growth but as propping up the increasingly implausible dream of a United Europe, of, by, and for European technocrats, by bailing out Greece, Ireland, and, soon enough, Spain.
A vote for Christine Lagarde, in other words, represents not a vote for global growth but a vote for the care and feeding of the European technocracy.
Come to think of it, I suppose she'll win in a landslide.