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50 People Who Matter 2011 | 7. Christine Lagarde

Figure of fund.

Depending on taste, the International Monetary Fund is the pre-eminent institution for the advancement of global economic stability or it is the agent of US imperialism, bullying broke governments into budgetary servitude. Either way, its vast influence in the recent years of financial crisis is beyond doubt. That makes its new managing director, Christine Lagarde, one of the most powerful women in the world. She took over the job in July, having worked her way up the French ministerial ranks to become her country's first female finance minister. She was backed for the IMF job by her UK counterpart, George Osborne - a mark of confidence in her distinctly un-Gallic commitment to liberal market economics. She has cited Adam Smith as her inspiration; many of her compatriots are suspicious of her Anglo-Saxon tendencies. Just as uncharacteristically French, she is teetotal and a vegetarian.

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This article first appeared in the 26 September 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The fifty people who matter