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.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
Graham Peebles
Ethiopian’s Crying out for Freedom and Justice
Robert Koehler
Stop the Killing
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: Of Dog Legs and “Debates”
Yves Engler
The Media’s Biased Perspective
Victor Grossman
Omens From Berlin
Christopher Brauchli
Wells Fargo as Metaphor for the Trump Campaign
Nyla Ali Khan
War of Words Between India and Pakistan at the United Nations
Tom Barnard
Block the Bunker! Historic Victory Against Police Boondoggle in Seattle
James Rothenberg
Bullshit Recognition as Survival Tactic
Ed Rampell
A Tale of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits
Kristine Mattis
Persnickety Publishing Pet-Peeves
Charles R. Larson
Review: Helen Dewitt’s “The Last Samurai”
David Yearsley
Torture Chamber Music
September 22, 2016
Dave Lindorff
Wells Fargo’s Stumpf Leads the Way
Stan Cox
If There’s a World War II-Style Climate Mobilization, It has to Go All the Way—and Then Some
Binoy Kampmark
Source Betrayed: the Washington Post and Edward Snowden
John W. Whitehead
Wards of the Nanny State
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail