Christine Lagarde starts at IMF


Christine Lagarde, France's former finance minister, takes over as head of the International Monetary Fund later.

The first woman to head the IMF, she was picked by its 24-member board.

Taking the post filled until last month by her compatriot Dominique Strauss-Kahn, she will begin her five-year term amid the escalating debt crisis in Europe and intensive efforts to avoid a Greek default.

Ms Lagarde’s victory over Mexico’s central bank governor Agustin Carstens was assured after the United States made its support clear and emerging economic powers China, Brazil and Russia did the same.

Perhaps the first task of her five-year term will be to deal with the efforts of the IMF and European Union to resolve the Greek debt crisis and prevent contagion to other Eurozone economies.

In a television interview after her appointment, Ms Lagarde pressed Greece to move quickly to push through unpopular austerity measures that the IMF and EU had said were a prerequisite for further aid. Greece subsequently approved the measures.