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Tuesday, 8 May, 2001, 22:10 GMT 23:10 UK
Key IMF man resigns
Stanley Fischer
Fischer: Time to move on
By economics correspondent Andrew Walker

The man at the centre of some of the biggest rescue operations mounted by the International Monetary Fund in the past decade has resigned.

Stanley Fischer has been second-in-command at the Fund for seven years, says it is now time to move on to new challenges.

When Mr Fischer arrived at the IMF in 1994 he was soon plunged into a major international financial calamity as the so-called Mexican Tequila crisis flared up.

In 1997, a succession of nations succumbed to the Asian financial crisis and in subsequent years, Russia, Brazil and Turkey have also been caught by turmoil in the markets.

Little chance

Mr Fischer was a central figure in the negotiation of large rescue loans and the detailed economic policy programmes that went with them.

Horst Koehler
Horst Koehler beat Fischer to the top IMF job
The IMF was criticised particularly for its failure to anticipate the Asian crisis.

Mr Fischer made some friends among African governments, and a group of them nominated him for the top job at the IMF when it became vacant last year.

In practice he had little chance. By an informal agreement between the United States and European powers, that job always goes to a European.

The successful candidate was a German, Horst Koehler.

Resentment

Some sources say he and Mr Fischer have had an at times frosty relationship.

US nationals have always held the top job at the World Bank and the second in charge at the IMF.

The informal allocation of these jobs between the US and Europe was widely criticised last year.

It is clearly resented by many other IMF member countries. And the issue could well resurface when it comes to choosing a successor to Mr Fischer.

Although he was born in Zambia, he is a naturalised American citizen.

His own plans are not known yet. He previously had a long academic career, mostly at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he was head of the Economics Department.

He was also for a time chief economist at the World Bank.

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See also:

30 Apr 01 | Business
IMF seeks to avert crises
16 Mar 00 | Business
Fischer withdraws as IMF candidate
02 Mar 00 | Business
IMF fails to agree new boss
13 Apr 00 | Business Basics
The IMF and World Bank
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