The chorus of senior politicians and pundits in Europe has started their unsurprising barrage of claims of the leadership of the International Monetary Fund for a European. Eyes firmly fixed on the past; many Europeans remember only the good times and also ignore the major changes in the world over the last few decades. Pointing to the serious problems in Europe at the current time, they make the case that only a seasoned European will be well-positioned to deal with the debt crises and other problems faced by Europe of 2011. And if the problems in Europe are not successfully dealt with, the world as a whole will suffer.
They miss the mote in their own eye. Europe is in a mess because of Europeans. Europeans could not build a solid and robust Europe, only a Europe for the good times. Now that they are faced with their own failure they have the nerve to say that they should be the ones to “fix” the problems. Rather, on the contrary, they should not be involved in matters outside of Europe until they can sort out their own problems. This is precisely not the time to reward Europe, but rather to encourage Europeans to focus inward to solve their own problems and not to drag the rest of the world into their mess.
Now is the time to bring in Asia, starting with China, to take their rightful place in today's world. There will be a plethora of experienced and seasoned economists and politicians who will explain why this can never be. The proper experienced person for the leadership of the IMF cannot be found in Asia, as the candidates have not had the proper experience, which they never will if a start is not made. If a person from China is selected this will upset India, or vice versa. As if the selection of the leader should turn on the prejudices of various nations.
The IMF has been dominated by the United States and Europe for six decades and the Fund suffers in the world from a true perception that it is not representative and that it favors the US and Europe. This undermines the ability of the IMF to formulate appropriate global goals and to achieve these goals, as many countries hold back full commitment, knowing that they are not appropriately represented. It is long past time to bring the IMF up to date and an organization that has struggled in the last few decades to find a role needs to recommit itself to the entire world and to recognize the very real and very positive changes that have taken place in the last few decades. The time is now, and the United States should take the high road and help guide the process rather than to fight the inevitable.
ANDREW T. HOOK, who owns a cabin in the Crosby area, is director of the Afghanistan Institute of Banking and Finance in Kabul. He has 30 years of experience in banking, finance and economic development throughout the world and has worked for the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.