FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

En Garde, Legarde!

by MIKE WHITNEY

French Finance Minster Christine Lagarde has emerged as the front-runner in the race to replace ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. She is a champion swimmer, an accomplished attorney, and a competent bureaucrat. She’s also a friend of Wall Street who will ferociously defend the interests of big capital. Here’s how The Guardian summed up Lagarde’s resume:

“Christine Lagarde stands for protecting big banks…..she’s the most pro-bank bailout of the lot.

“The Americans are going to try and put in [White House adviser] David Lipton as number two. Lipton is Mr Bank Bailout. He worked for Citigroup. If they put in Lagarde and Lipton, what does that say? We are going with the total bank protection plan. That would be a disaster.” (“IMF under growing pressure to appoint non-European head”, The Guardian)

According to the New York Times Lagarde is not only a snappy dresser, but has plenty of friends in Washington and Wall Street. Here’s an excerpt from the NYT:

“Ms. Lagarde, the former head of the Chicago-based law firm Baker & McKenzie, lived in the United States for 25 years. Tall and stylish, with a shock of silver hair and a penchant for Chanel jackets, she is as connected and as respected in Washington and on Wall Street as in Europe.” (A Favorite Emerges for Helm of I.M.F., New York Times)

Not surprisingly, Lagarde supports weaker regulations so that banks and other financial institutions can continue to rake in windfall profits while increasing the risks to the broader economy. According to Reuters:

“I see the danger that too strict regulation at the center leads to a flight to the borderlands,” Lagarde said in an article published in the Friday edition of German newspaper Handelsblatt.” (“Too strict regulation risks flight”, Reuters)

Lagarde has also taken a hardline approach to problems in Greece and rejects the idea of debt forgiveness or restructuring. She believes that bondholders and bankers must be repaid regardless of the costs to Greek workers who have suffered through 3 years of Depression, 18% unemployment, savage cutbacks in social services, massive privatization of public assets, and a debt-to-GDP ratio that gets worse every year the belt-tightening continues. Lagarde appears to believe that the people who blew up the financial system should be rewarded for their efforts. Here’s an excerpt for the Wall Street Journal:

“French finance minister Christine Lagarde said late Monday, after a meeting with finance officials from the European Union, that a rescheduling or reprofiling of Greek debt is NOT an option….. Executing the planned austerity program, proper implementation of privatization, and commitments across the political spectrum in Greece are the key for a solution in Greece, Lagarde said.” (“France’s Lagarde: Option Of Rescheduling Greek Debt Not On Table”, Wall Street Journal)

So the belt-tightening will intensify under Lagarde, which is a signal to bankers that she can be trusted to protect their interests, and all the talk about “soft restructuring” or reforms a la Strauss-Kahn will end.

There will be no more talk about replacing the dollar with SDRs (Special Drawing Rights) either. Lagarde is not going to rock the boat. The only reforms she’ll be working on are “labor reforms”, a familiar buzzword among the financial elite for union busting.

It’s worth noting that the normally-subdued Lagarde could hardly contain herself when Bin Laden was assassinated. She even suggested that it might help to boost sales in the US. Here’s the report from Reuters:

“French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde welcomed the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and said his death could bolster consumer confidence and economic growth in the United States.

“The U.S. economy is like the American people. It reacts very quickly either positively or negatively,” Lagarde told France 2 television. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this event prompted a pick-up in confidence.” (“France sees U.S. economic lift from bin Laden death”, Reuters)

Of course, Lagarde’s enthusiasm was not tempered by the fact that international law forbids targeted assassinations of non-state actors. After all, “real” leaders are never constrained by something as trivial as the law.

So, it looks like Wall Street may have found a replacement for the mercurial Strauss Kahn. There won’t be any debt-restructuring, bondholders will be paid in full, and the dollar’s dominant role as the world’s reserve currency will go unchallenged.

Lagarde announced her candidacy on Wednesday and already she’s won the support of Washington, Wall Street, the big banks, and EU heads of state. She’s probably a shoo in.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com

 

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

Weekend Edition
February 12-14, 2016
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors: When in Doubt, Bomb Syria
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Franklin Lamb
Notes From Tehran: Trump, the Iranian Elections and the End of Sanctions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail