IMF Names Mexico’s Werner Head of Western Hemisphere Office

The International Monetary Fund chose former Mexican Deputy Finance Minister Alejandro Werner to head its Western Hemisphere department overseeing Latin America.

Werner will take up his post in early January, according to a statement released via e-mail by the IMF today. Currently head of corporate and investment banking at Mexico City-based BBVA Bancomer SA, Werner helped steer Latin America’s second-biggest economy through its deepest recession in almost two decades in 2009 without fueling a surge in the fiscal deficit.

His appointment comes as Mexico asserts itself globally, serving as president of the Group of 20 nations over the past year. Werner’s former boss, central bank Governor Agustin Carstens, sought to rally emerging markets behind his bid to become IMF Managing Director last year, before losing out to Christine Lagarde. Werner has a doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and worked from 2006 to 2010 under Carstens when he served as President Felipe Calderon’s finance minister.

“Alejandro Werner has extensive public policy experience and a deep understanding of the global financial and economic system,” Lagarde said in today’s statement. The department Werner will lead “has front-line responsibility for economic surveillance of some of the world’s most systemically important economies.”

Fiscal Prudence

Werner won the post over Juan Carlos Echeverry, who declared himself a candidate for the position of Western Hemisphere director after stepping down as Colombia’s finance minister. Werner replaces Nicolas Eyzaguirre, who resigned in July to become chairman of Canal 13 television in his native Chile.

He didn’t immediately respond to a telephone call seeking comment today following the announcement.

Werner held the deputy finance minister post when Mexico in 2009 became the first nation to receive a flexible credit line from the IMF, a mechanism to help support economies deemed to have strong fundamentals. Mexico’s original $47 billion credit line was boosted to $72 billion in January 2011. Carstens this month said Mexico is negotiating a renewal of the credit line.

Werner was also instrumental in passing 2009 legislation to increase taxes to make up for falling oil revenue, Barclays Capital said when he stepped down.

Calderon’s government carried out spending cuts and tax increases in 2009 totaling more than $10 billion to contain the fiscal deficit, even as the economy shrank 6.2 percent in the worst recession since the 1994-95 peso devaluation crisis.

Before becoming deputy minister, Werner worked as an economist at the IMF’s research and Western Hemisphere departments in 1995 and 1996. He also served as chief economist at Mexico’s central bank.

In his new job at the IMF, Werner will have oversight over loan programs to Latin America and the Caribbean and assessment of the region’s economies, including the U.S. and Canada.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE