Our financial leaders need to be brought down from their Olympian heights
Larry Elliott, economics editor
Monday July 16, 2007
The stand-off between Britain and France over the top job at the International Monetary Fund lifts the lid on how these things work. Alistair Darling was done up like a kipper by Nicolas Sarkozy, who united every EU country bar Britain behind the former French finance minister, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
It goes without saying that Darling had right on his side. The idea that the Fund is a European fiefdom, with the MD chosen not through an open and transparent process but as a result of a deal cut in Brussels is indefensible. But there is a bigger issue at stake.
Whoever is chosen to run the IMF will join a select band of men wielding enormous power beyond the scope of the democratic process. If DSK (as he’s known in France) eventually starts laying down the financial law to poor countries in Africa, it will be without the approval of a single voter anywhere in the world. The same goes for Robert Zoellick at the World Bank, Pascal Lamy at the World Trade Organisation, for Jean-Claude Trichet at the European Central Bank and a host of lesser immortals who sit at the feet of the gods in the new Olympus.