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Nobel Winner Mundell Says Lagarde Would Be Strong IMF Chief

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May 25 (Bloomberg) -- French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who today declared her candidacy to lead the International Monetary Fund, is “an international superstar,” said Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Mundell.

“She’s made a tremendous impression,” Mundell, a member of the faculty at Columbia University and an adviser to the IMF, said on the Bloomberg Radio program, the “Hays Advantage” with Kathleen Hays.

“She’s got a very strong background and would be a very good leader,” Mundell said. “What the IMF needs right now, in backing up from the fiasco recently, is someone who can lead strongly.”

Lagarde “knows the economics and politics of it,” he said.

Lagarde would become the first woman to lead the Washington-based lender to world governments since its founding in 1945. She would succeed countryman Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned after being charged with sexual assault in New York.

In another interview on the “Hays Advantage,” Columbia University professor Irene Finel-Honigman said Lagarde has the “diplomatic and political skill” and that “she is perfect at this time.”

Regarding demands for someone from outside of Europe to head the IMF, Finel-Honigman said, “It’s not time to be politically correct, but politically astute.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Vincent Del Giudice in Washington; Kathleen Hays in New York

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at

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