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World leaders must listen to the young on climate change: Christine Lagarde

  • 21 September 2019
  • Author: QT01
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World leaders must listen to the young on climate change: Christine Lagarde
Christine Lagarde owns a room when she walks into it. Whether it is a hall filled with thousands of participants at the opening of the annual International Monetary Fund meetings where she laces her speeches on macroeconomic challenges with Alice in Wonderland references, or a small bilateral room for a swift but impactful meeting with a head of state at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos. She has perfected the art of walking into a room, head straight, walking with purpose, making immediate eye contact with her interlocutor, with a confident smile that simultaneously is a welcome and a warning. She is also known not to suffer fools.
This week, Madame Lagarde has been reflecting about her legacy at the IMF, stepping down as Managing Director after eight years in order to take on her new role as President of the European Central Bank. In her final interview as managing director of the IMF, Madame Lagarde spoke to The National about the importance of striking the right balance between nationalist policies and global co-operation to tackle some of the world’s toughest challenges.
“Globalisation, international trade, the transformation that technologies bring about is not attributable and is not going to be fixed by multilateral institutions, it will be attributable and fixable at the local level because that is where governments are elected or designated," she says.
"But that is where the budgets lie, that is where domestic policies are identified, that is where the losers and the winners have to be equalised in some shape or form or inequality reduced.”
Madame Lagarde acknowledges that “a multilateral institution is not going to fix that. We have to come to realise that is it a combination of the national imperative and the international solutions. It is bringing the two together that will tackle issues such as terrorism, money laundering, corruption around the world, financial flows, migration of disease and climate change”.
A decade after the financial crisis, there are concerns about the slowing down of the economy around the world at a time of political tensions. Madame Lagarde said that “the financial crisis certainly taught me that it is by cooperating, it is by including, it is by facing collective hardship that we actually came out of the crisis. We managed to avoid a recession, that turned into a great depression”.
There are concerns that the collective lessons of the previous crisis have not been learnt. Madame Lagarde said: “We tend to forget over the course of time how difficult it was over those days right after the financial crisis. While ten years ago there was a strong co-operation, strong determination that no product, no market, no player would be not supervised, not regulated, the financial sector would have to be better capitalised and stronger and more crisis resistant, these things fade and those players who were critically important have either retired or gone away and we forget”.
This is where she sees an important role for herself: “One of my jobs, because I am a veteran in that field now, is to constantly remind those ‘new turks’ that a crisis can be around the corner, that sustainable growth, solid growth, stable growth, is critically important as it is important that it be inclusive”.
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