Campaigning in the 187—member countries for the head of the International Monetary Fund is well underway. The terms of warfare for the most civilized and cerebral economic post in the world are civilized and cerebral as well. The front runner Christine Lagarde is not handicapped by her long association with the recently departed Dominique Strauss-Kahn nor for being a European candidate for a position Europe has monopolized since the IMF’s creation. Yet, the cheap clichés of neighborhood politics are already on display.
Her first declared challenger, Mexico’s central bank chief, Agustin Carstens allegedly has a problem embedded in his illustrious economic resume.
It’s widely acknowledged that, on paper, he’s better qualified for the job. Unlike the front runner, Carstens is a trained economist; he has already spent four years at the IMF as executive director and deputy managing director, and was Mexico’s finance minister from 2006 to 2009. He knows how to recruit, promote, manage and challenge other trained economists. He knows how to influence an economy and how that influence can do great harm as well as some good. Nevertheless, what gave Carstens his start now gives him a problem—he studied at the University of Chicago.
The Globe and Mail reports:
“. . . some critics have suggested Mr. Carstens may be too much of an inflation hawk, a relic of his three years of graduate work at the notoriously free market University of Chicago - a charge he dismissed Tuesday.”
Click on: https://secure.globeadvisor.com/servlet/ArticleNews/story/gam/20110608/RBIMFCARSTENSMCKENNAATL
The Financial Times bothered to provide Mr. Carstens’ rejoinder, “At Chicago, I didn’t learn a religion. I gained a series of analytical tools.”
Those intellectual tools may be of little help in securing a majority of the votes of the 187 politicians who will choose the next head of the IMF, but they shouldn’t hurt him either.
Some 32 alumni of the University of Chicago are Nobel Laureates, including Milton Friedman and the Paul Samuelson. The impeccably Keynesian London School of Economics and Political Science has produced only 18, including the Bertrand Russell and Paul Krugman.
The University of Chicago may someday be over-rated. However, for the time being there’s nothing “notorious” about this great university of rigorous free expression.