- Category : Political
- Type : MGE
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Split - Small (27)
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Tension 4
Christine Madeleine Odette Lagarde (born 1 January 1956) is a French lawyer and Union for a Popular Movement politician who has been the Managing Director (MD) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since 5 July 2011. Previously, she held various ministerial posts in the French government: she was Minister of Economic Affairs, Finances and Industry and before that Minister of Agriculture and Fishing and Minister of Trade in the government of Dominique de Villepin. Lagarde was the first woman ever to become finance minister of a G8 economy, and is the first woman to ever head the IMF.
A noted antitrust and labor lawyer, Lagarde became the first female chairman of the international law firm Baker & McKenzie. On 16 November 2009, the Financial Times ranked her the best Minister of Finance in the Eurozone. On 28 June 2011, she was named as the next MD of the IMF for a five-year term, starting on 5 July 2011, replacing Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Her appointment is the 11th consecutive appointment of a European to head the IMF. In 2011, Lagarde was ranked the 8th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine. On 29 October Lagarde accepted an honorary doctoral degree from the KU Leuven, in Courtray.
Lagarde was born in Paris, France into a family of academics. Her father Robert Lallouette was a Professor of English; her mother Nicole was a Latin teacher. Lagarde and her three brothers, all younger, spent their childhood in Le Havre where she attended the Lycée François 1er and Lycée Claude Monet. As a teenager, Lagarde was a member of the French national synchronised swimming team. After her baccalauréat in 1973, she went on an American Field Service scholarship to the Holton-Arms School for girls in Bethesda, Maryland. During her year in America, Lagarde worked as an intern at the United States Capitol, as Representative William Cohen's congressional assistant, helping him correspond with his French-speaking constituents during the Watergate hearings. She graduated from law school at Paris West University Nanterre La Défense, and obtained a Master's degree in English and labor law from the Institut d'études politiques d'Aix-en-Provence (Sciences Po Aix). Since 2010, she has presided over the Institute's board of directors.
Lagarde is twice divorced and has two sons, Pierre-Henri Lagarde (born 1986) and Thomas Lagarde (born 1988). Since 2006, her partner has been the entrepreneur Xavier Giocanti from Marseille. She is a vegetarian and very rarely drinks alcohol. Her hobbies include regular trips to the gym, cycling and swimming.
Lagarde joined Baker & McKenzie, a large Chicago-based international law firm, in 1981. She handled major antitrust and labor cases, was made partner after six years and was named head of the firm in Western Europe. She joined the executive committee in 1995 and was elected the company's first ever female Chairman in October 1999. In 2004, Lagarde became president of the global strategic committee.
As France's Trade Minister between 2005 and May 2007, Lagarde prioritized opening new markets for the country's products, focusing on the technology sector. On 18 May 2007, she was moved to the Ministry of Agriculture as part of the government of François Fillon. The following month she joined François Fillon's cabinet in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry and Employment to become the first woman to ever be in charge of economic policy in France.
On 3 August 2011, a French court ordered an investigation into Christine Lagarde's role in a €285 million arbitration deal in favour of Bernard Tapie. On 20 March 2013, French police searched her Paris home as part of the investigation.
International Monetary Fund
In May 2011, Lagarde was mentioned as a possible successor of Dominique Strauss-Kahn as Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Her candidacy received the support of the British, Indian, United States, Russian, Chinese and German governments.
On 25 May 2011, Lagarde announced her candidacy to be head of the IMF to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn upon his resignation.
On 28 June 2011, the IMF board elected Lagarde as its next managing director and chairman for a five-year term, starting on 5 July 2011. Agustín Carstens and Kemal Dervi? were also considered for the post. The IMF's executive board praised both candidates as well-qualified, but decided on Lagarde by consensus. Lagarde became the first woman to be elected as the head of the IMF. Carstens would have been the first non-European. His candidacy was supported by the Latin American governments, as well as Spain, Canada and Australia.
Her appointment comes amidst the intensification of the European sovereign debt crisis especially in Greece, with fears looming of loan defaults. The United States in particular supported her expeditious appointment in light of the fragility of Europe's economic situation.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said that Lagarde's "exceptional talent and broad experience will provide invaluable leadership for this indispensable institution at a critical time for the global economy." Nicolas Sarkozy referred to Lagarde's appointment as "a victory for France." Oxfam, a charity working in developing nations, called her appointment process "farcical" and argued that what it saw as the lack of transparency in the appointment process hurt the IMF's credibility.
In July 2010, Lagarde told the PBS NewsHour that the IMF lending project was "a very massive plan, totally unexpected, totally counter-treaty, because it wasn't scheduled in the treaty that we should do a bailout program, as we did." She also said, "we had essentially a trillion dollars on the table to confront any market attack that would target any country, whether it's Greece, Spain, Portugal, or anybody within the eurozone." With respect to the French economy, she stated that besides short-term stimulus efforts: "we must, very decisively, cut our deficit and reduce our debt."
In public remarks made right after her appointment, Lagarde stated that both the IMF and EU require Greek austerity measures as a prerequisite for further aid. She said, "If I have one message tonight about Greece, it is to call on the Greek political opposition to support the party that is currently in power in a spirit of national unity." Lagarde's view of her predecessor is that: "The IMF has taken up the challenges of the crisis thanks to the actions of the director general Dominique Strauss-Kahn and to his team as well." On 25 December 2011, Lagarde argued that the world economy was at risk and urged Europeans to unify in terms of the debt crisis facing the continent.
Questioned about her economic philosophy, Lagarde has described herself as "with Adam Smith—that is, liberal."
In an interview with The Guardian in May 2012, Lagarde was asked about crisis-stricken Greece—where the suicide rate has increased by 40% and large sections of Athens are reduced to using food kitchens—and other struggling eurozone countries, and replied:
"Do you know what? As far as Athens is concerned, I also think about all those people who are trying to escape tax all the time. All these people in Greece who are trying to escape tax."
Even more than she thinks about all those now struggling to survive without jobs or public services? "I think of them equally. And I think they should also help themselves collectively."
How? "By all paying their tax. Yeah."
It sounds as if she's essentially saying to the Greeks and others in Europe, you've had a nice time and now it's payback time. "That's right." She nods calmly. "Yeah."
Her comments provoked uproar: Evangelos Venizelos said she had "insulted the Greek people", while Alexis Tsipras declared coolly: "We don't need her compassion." In an effort to quell the negative response, the next day Lagarde updated her Facebook page with: "As I have said many times before, I am very sympathetic to the Greek people and the challenges they are facing." Within 24 hours, over 10,000 comments had been left in response, many of them obscene. To her accusations that not enough Greeks paid their taxes, Professor Emeritus John Weeks of the University of London retorted: "The moral weight of Christine Lagarde's matronising of the Greeks to pay their taxes is not strengthened by the fact that, as director of the IMF, she is in receipt of a tax-free annual salary of $468,000 (£298,000, plus perks)." In making general "payback" comments about peripheral eurozone countries having "had a nice time", Lagarde appeared to be unaware that, for example, Spain had actually been running budget surpluses for three consecutive years going into the financial crisis, while Ireland had been running surpluses for five consecutive years going in, as her own organisation's data shows.
In 2007, the EU Council even gave Spain three gold stars and a commendation, saying its "budgetary strategy provides a good example of fiscal policies". Lagarde did not appear to understand that the factor that precipitated the financial crisis in Spain, Ireland, and other countries was the collapse of housing bubbles, not reckless government spending. The point was emphasised by The Economist the week after her remarks were published:
This fiscal focus gets things exactly backwards. Spain's poor public finances, unlike those of Greece, are a symptom rather than the cause of the country's economic woes. Before the crisis Spain was well within the euro zone's fiscal rules. Even now its government debt, at around 70% of GDP, is lower than Germany's. As in Ireland, the origins of Spain's debt problems are private, not public.
Her viewpoint appeared to remain unchanged in July 2012, as the Greek economy nosedived even more than expected and its leaders asked for clemency, Lagarde said she was "not in the negotiation or renegotiation mood at all."
The Lagarde list
In 2010 Lagarde, then financial minister of France, sent a list of 1991 names of Greek customers with bank accounts at HSBC's Geneva branch to the Greek government.
On 28 October 2012, Greek reporter and editor Kostas Vaxevanis claimed to be in possession of the list and published a document with more than 2,000 names in his magazine Hot Doc. He was immediately arrested on charges for breaching privacy laws with a possible sentence of up to two years in prison. Three days later in trial Vaxevanis was found not guilty.
Lagarde was interviewed in the documentary film Inside Job (2010), which later won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[c
The fashion magazine Vogue profiled Lagarde in September 2011.
Lagarde was portrayed by actress Laila Robins in the 2011 HBO television drama Too Big to Fail, which was based on the popular book of the same name by New York Times journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin.