Archive for May, 2011

Emerging states working on IMF candidate: South Africa

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 | Finance News

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Emerging nations are still conducting "lots of consultations" about choosing a candidate from their ranks to head the International Monetary Fund, South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Tuesday.

Gordhan told reporters that emerging states had until June 10 to name their consensus candidate.

"There's lots of consultations going on. It's work in progress," Gordhan said when asked to comment on the race to replace Dominique Strauss-Khan, who stepped down after being accused of trying to rape a New York hotel maid.

Current front-runner, French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, kicked off a worldwide tour in Brazil on Monday to win support for her candidacy to lead the global lender, pledging to push reforms to give emerging economies more say.

The backing of Brazil, Latin America's largest economy and an influential diplomatic power, could help ease discontent among developing countries over the long-standing practice of choosing a European to head the Washington-based IMF.

Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said Brazil had yet to decide whether to support Lagarde or her only declared rival, Mexican central bank chief Agustin Carstens.

Gordhan also said South Africa, the continent's leading economy, might nominate its own candidate, but did not name anybody. Respected former finance minister Trevor Manuel is the only South African official thought to be in with a chance.

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf, Writing by Ed Cropley, Editing by Catherine Evans)


IMF candidate Carstens urges tough euro zone plan

Monday, May 30th, 2011 | Finance News

MADRID (Reuters) – A non-European head of the International Monetary Fund could mean a tougher, more realistic action plan for the euro zone debt crisis, Mexican central bank chief Agustin Carstens said in newspaper interviews on Tuesday.

Carstens is the only declared rival to French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde in her bid for candidacy to lead the global lender.

"It would be appropriate to have a non-European because a pair of fresh eyes could see European problems with greater objectivity," Carstens told El Pais in a visit to Spain as part of a tour to campaign for the job.

He said he had more experience and authority than Lagarde in an interview with Expansion newspaper.

Greece, Ireland and Portugal have received international bailouts to combat a debt crisis which threatens to swallow other peripheral euro zone countries. Meanwhile, economists fear Greece's sovereign debt levels are unsustainable.

The resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn has led to calls from developing countries to end the traditional European lock on the job.

"I think emerging countries have been faithful partners in the international economy in recent years and we should be recognized," Carstens told El Pais.

EU nations are strongly backing Lagarde, arguing a European leader is crucial at a time when the IMF is working with the euro zone to avert the risk of Greece defaulting on its loans and sparking wider financial fall-out.

Mexico's Carstens said the only way to solve the euro zone crisis was to take tough measures, without saying what those measures should be.

"There are still bitter pills to be swallowed and the international financial community should give its support, but in my experience there is no alternative to taking those tough measures," he said.

The restructuring of Greek or Irish debt was not a magic bullet, he said, and should be a measure of last resort and as part of a wide-ranging program.


Goldman traded $1.3 billion in Libyan funds: report

Monday, May 30th, 2011 | Finance News

(Reuters) – Goldman Sachs invested more than $1.3 billion from Libya's sovereign-wealth fund in currency bets and other trades in 2008 and the investment lost more than 98 percent of its value, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing internal Goldman documents.

When the fund, controlled by Col. Muammar Gaddafi, made huge losses Goldman offered Libya the chance to become one of its biggest shareholders, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Goldman Sachs was not available for comment, outside of normal U.S. business hours.

Among the different proposals put forward by Goldman Sachs to recoup the losses was one in which Libya would get $5 billion in preferred Goldman shares in return for investing $3.7 billion into the securities firm, the paper added.

The documents also show that company Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein, its finance chief David Viniar and top executive Michael Sherwood were involved in discussions in this regard, the Journal reported.

The Libyan fund had apparently paid $1.3 billion for options on a basket of currencies and on six stocks - Citigroup Inc (C.N), Italian bank UniCredit SpA (CRDI.MI), Spanish bank Banco Santander, German insurance giant Allianz (ALVG.DE), French energy company Électricité de France (EDF.PA) and Italian energy company Eni SpA (ENI.MI), the paper said.

(Reporting by Rachel Chitra in Bangalore; Editing by David Cowell)

(This story was corrected in paragraph two to change the spelling of Muammar Gaddafi)