christine_lagarde

The Guardian: Interview with Christine Lagarde CEO of IMF.

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She has travelled the world asking countries to contribute to a firewall fund, but several have asked – not unreasonably – why they should have to pay for Europe’s mistakes, when Europe is still richer than most of the world. Does the eurozone crisis matter more to their own interests than they realise? “Oh, I think they realise it,” Lagarde says quickly, sounding deadly serious. “There has not been a capital I have visited in the last 10 months where the first question has not been: what is the situation in Europe? Are the Europeans sorting it out?”

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Even more than she thinks about all those now struggling to survive without jobs or public services? “I think of them equally. And I think they should also help themselves collectively.” How? “By all paying their tax. Yeah.”

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“What’s really interesting,” she says more seriously, “is that wherever you see a change of government, for instance in Spain, do you see major changes from the economic and financial policies that were conducted by their predecessors? No.” She suspects we will see a similar pattern now in France. “I’m very much a believer that it’s action that matters much more so than, you know, the flurry of political promises and statements and slogans that are used during political campaigns. So let’s see.”

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Is she saying there’s no need to panic about a rift between Paris and Berlin? “I should think so,” she agrees quietly, with a knowing smile. “I think it’s largely overstated.”

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Could she at least say where we are on the curve; is this as bad as things can be, or will they get worse? “I’m not in the business of reading tea leaves. I don’t have a crystal ball. Some of the major issues are being resolved – but it’s not over now. Let’s face it, it’s not over yet.”