Ireland approached to back Mark Carney as next IMF boss

As Christine Lagarde exits, Bank of England governor with Irish passport eyes up post

Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England. Photograph: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg

Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England. Photograph: Christophe Morin/Bloomberg


Ireland has been approached at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to throw its support behind Mark Carney as the next head of the fund, as negotiations begin over a successor to Christine Lagarde who officially resigned on Tuesday.

Mr Carney, the current governor of the Bank of England who holds an Irish passport, is one of the names in the running for the prestigious post.

The IMF post traditionally goes to a European, with a North American heading-up the World Bank. But several countries – including some in Europe – are open to Mr Carney’s nomination and are looking for ways in which he could be endorsed as a candidate, with focus now turning to his Irish citizenship.

Mr Carney has held an Irish passport for more than three decades. Three of his grandparents emigrated from Mayo to Canada in the 1920s.

Ireland is likely to consult with other EU countries before any decision is made on which candidate to back. Mr Carney, a Canadian national who is currently governor of the Bank of England, has been criticised by supporters of Brexit for his forecasts on the negative impact of Brexit on the British economy.

Mr Carney is scheduled to leave his position at the bank in January next year, having already delayed his exit twice, and is widely considered to be eyeing the IMF director position. But some European countries may favour a Europe-born candidate for the prestigious post.

Among those considered to be in the running include former eurogroup chairman and Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem and current eurogroup chairman Mário Centeno. Other candidates include Agustin Carstens, the Mexican former deputy managing director of the fund and Kristalina Georgieva, a former EU commissioner for Bulgaria and currently the number two at the World Bank.

Political wrangling

The IMF chief is typically chosen by consensus, and Ireland is likely to ally itself closely with other EU members as the political wrangling over the post begins in earnest. Though Mr Carney is also a British citizen, EU members are unlikely to want a British candidate, given Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. Hence the suggestion by allies of Mr Carney that he could be nominated through his Irish citizenship.

EU countries in the fund tend to vote together, and as a bloc the EU represents a sizeable minority.

The development comes as Ms Lagarde formally resigned her role as head of the IMF on Tuesday to take up the position of European Central Bank president in Frankfurt, a role previously held by Italian economist Mario Draghi. Her resignation will formally take effect on September 12th and the role filled by acting managing director David Lipton in the interim.

Ms Lagarde, a former French finance minister, replaced Dominque Strauss-Kahn, another French politician who led the IMF until he was forced to resign over a sex scandal.

Prior to his appointment as governor of the Bank of England in 2013, Mr Carney served as governor of the Bank of Canada. Educated at Harvard and Oxford, he also worked for Goldman Sachs.