David Prosser: Carstens is running out of time for IMF bid


Outlook Agustin Carstens, the governor of the central bank of Mexico, had better get a move-on if he wants to still be in the running for the job of running the International Monetary Fund when the nominations close on Friday. While Mr Carstens spent yesterday belly-aching about Europe's refusal to countenance a non-European heading the IMF for the first time in its history, the Europeans' candidate, Christine Lagarde, was busy chatting up voters in the developing world.

Ms Lagarde moves closer by the day to sealing the deal. She already has the support of the European Union, which is less than impressed with the idea of a Latin American telling them how to resolve the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone. The US appears to be swinging behind her too. Sensibly, she is now spending her time canvassing her opponents' potential voters – securing the support of even one big hitter from the emerging markets will probably get her over the line.

Mr Carstens points out that the Bric economies, which have said they would like to see a developing world candidate at the helm of the IMF, do not have a forum like the European Union through which to agree on who they should back. That is true, of course, but the Bric nations have now had more than a month to get their act together. Or, to put it another way, Mr Carstens has had more than a month to find a way to secure their support.

The Mexican is so far the only candidate from the emerging economies of the world to have declared he will run. But the Bric nations seem to have been far too busy thinking about their own agendas to concentrate on the common good.

There is still time – just. If India, Ms Lagarde's host yesterday, and China, where she is off to next, were to publicly throw their weight behind Mr Carstens together with Brazil and Russia, his campaign would be up and running. The sensible move then would be to agree a programme of reform for the IMF that goes much further than the current proposals to give emerging markets more say. That is the pitch Mr Carstens needs to take to other developing nations to win their support.

It is not as if the Mexican is a maverick candidate with ideas that would appal the US or even Europe. A former deputy managing director of the IMF whose views were burnished during his doctoral studies at the hugely influential University of Chicago, his credentials are, if anything, a little too establishment.

That may be one reason the Brics have yet to unite behind him. But if they want a developing world candidate, he is their only hope – and one that is fading fast.

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