Kristalina Georgieva

Kristalina Georgieva is a Bulgarian economist serving as the Chairwoman and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund since 2019. She was the Chief Executive of the World Bank Group from 2017 to 2019 and also served as the Acting President there. She previously served as Vice-President of the European Commission under Jean-Claude Juncker from 2014 to 2016. 

Her election and history play a key role in her policymaking as the first IMF leader from an emerging eastern European state and hence, she faces immense pressure from the European bloc. Her policies and agendas thus, stem towards liberalism and capitalism appeasement trends. A champion of multilateralism, Ms Georgieva focuses on tackling climate change, boosting female labour participation and reducing inequality. Georgieva has more expertise in development but less familiarity with financial trouble in advanced economies.

Background and policies

Kristalina grew up privileged though her grandparents had very little education; she was the great-granddaughter of the celebrated 19th-century revolutionary Ivan Karshovski. This is where her trickle-down socialism influence comes from. But further on, during her adolescence, her father fell ill,  leaving the family in dire financial circumstances in a communist Bulgaria. A metamorphosis is seen in Kristalina’s ideology towards a more right-wing western one when she moves to the United Kingdom on scholarship and starts working as a researcher in London School of Economics. Later, she goes on to attend a Corporate finance Programme at Harvard University.

She failed to win enough support from the P5 countries in her initial straw runs for UN Secretary-General but eventually got appointed as the Vice-president of the World Bank. She was considered for the position of the Finance Minister in Bulgaria but she turned down the offer when she was appointed as the Managing Director of the IMF, making her the first person from an emerging country to achieve such a feat. This makes her in the likes of other women European Leaders such as Theresa May and Angela Merkel wherein she runs the intrinsic view of being a woman in a man’s world. While this could make her policies more spearheaded, her communist roots in a capitalist organisation like the IMF rather make her approach to most conflicts appeasing. 

Kristalina’s election as a key influence

Analysing the history of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva has emerged as a disputed victor in a tight battle to be the European nominee to head the IMF, with the UK vainly seeking to champion George Osborne as an alternative. The problem is that she faced a lot of opposition, which makes her more susceptible to appeasing European countries. She would be the first Eastern European national to take charge of the IMF. Considering the history of the IMF,  a European head is meant to represent the European bloc. Hence, their interests play a key role in her decision making.

Furthermore, French President Emanuel Macron put his diplomatic weight behind Georgieva to replace Christine Lagarde. Despite the fact that her candidacy would require to change the IMF’s eligibility criteria. She is 65 and the IMF’s rules state that the managing director must take the post before their 65th birthday. This move makes her indebted to Macron. The French Head of State is currently championing for a revamped democracy especially in countries like Greece so as to open them up for business enough to dilute the EU reform packages still being injected into its economy.  Kristalina’s tendency of this ideology saw hints in her first speech as IMF director displaying how Macron plays a key role in her decision making. 

Inclination towards sensitive policymaking

Creating a brave new agenda for the IMF in an uncertain world was one of the burdens faced by Kristalina when she took office owing to the time-sensitive nature of the year in terms of the world’s monetary policies. Five major problems she inherited were as follows; The Argentinian Bailout, with a populist President in power; Washington-Beijing trade conflict and war; the economic recession and slowdown that the entirety of the world was facing; the problem of repeat offenders like Pakistan and Ukraine that had turned IMF lending into bad debt and lastly, the IMF funding by the USA which was low as compared to their expectations.

This creates a pressure plate on any leader and thus, Kristalina’s agenda- no matter how weak or strong in terms of tackling the conflict- is viewed as brave in the eyes of the media. The interlinked country dynamics and the IMF also tend to make her views more appeasing and neutral, trying not to aggravate the conflict further. 

Aashna Gadia

Research & Analysis Alumna