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Asean Affairs  25 May 2011

Joining the club

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     25 May 2011

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The vacancy at the top of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is creating a clash of cultures between Europe and the developing world.

In Europe, recent reporting indicates that French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is cementing her status as the frontrunner for the position. She apparently has the support of Europe’s main economies and China, while Brazil will quitedly back her rather than the head of Mexico’s central bank, Agustin Carstens.

Nevertheless, leaders from the developing world have expressed their views in a letter to the Financial Times. Executive directors representing Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in the letter that the IMF needs to reform in view of “the growing role of developing countries in the world economy.”

The practice of choosing by nationality weakens the fund’s legitimacy and a decision should be taken after broad consultation with the membership, Russia’s Aleksei Mozhin, India’s Arvind Virmani, China’s Jianxiong He, South Africa’s Moeketsi Majoro and Brazil’s Paulo Nogueira Batista Jr. said in the letter.

Their point is clear and although the odds appear to favor Lagarde in this go-around, there will be increasing pressure for those in the developing world to hold significant international positions, especially in the economic and trade spheres.

After all, it is the Asian and Asean economies that have shown the most dynamic and strongest growth in recent years and they appear to be destined to continue that into the mid-21st century.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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