Who should be the next IMF chief?

Even if the serious charges against IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn are proven false, the IMF will likely be in need of a new leader.

According to unwritten agreement, the IMF has always been headed by a European, just as the president of the World Bank has always been American.

Some (mainly Europeans, funnily enough) argue that the IMF needs a European leader now more than ever, because the biggest issues the IMF currently faces are in the eurozone  rather than in the developing world. Possibilities named include French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, Italian Central Bank head Mario Draghi.

Others, like Felix Salmon, argue it’s time for a change.  After all, when he was chosen in 2007  DSK himself said that his appointment would be the last time a European automatically got the nod.  "Voice and representation of most countries in a changing world have to be better taken into account by the board, but also by the staff," he said, "as well as by management.”

Owen Barder calls for the selection to be open, transparent, and merit-based (in contrast to the back-room deals that usually cinch the nomination.) This would open the field to contenders like Turkish former UNDP head Kemal Dervis and South African politician Trevor Manuel.

Meanwhile, the Freakonomics blog attempts to rescue the reputation of economists the world over by reminding us that morality and occupational choice are not highly correlated.

Postscript from Bill 8:30am Tuesday: Did the IMF get it wrong in 2008? Disturbing story in NYT this morning about the previous DSK sex scandal of an affair with a subordinate:

The Board concluded that ... Mr. Strauss-Kahn ...had not abused his power.

In a letter to the board {at the time}, {the woman in the affair} disagreed, saying Mr. Strauss-Kahn had used his power as managing director to become intimate with her.

“I was damned if I did and damned if I didn’t,” she wrote in a letter to the investigators. In the letter, she went on to say that Mr. Strauss-Kahn was “a man with a problem that may make him ill-equipped to lead an institution where women work under his command.”