Köhler, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), was nominated on behalf of the European Union member states by Joao Santos, an Advisor in the Executive Board constituency that includes Portugal, which currently holds the presidency of the European Union. Bernd Esdar, Executive Director for Germany, made a statement in support of the nomination of Köhler (see page 82).
The Board was also informed of the withdrawal of Eisuke Sakakibara, former Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs in the Ministry of Finance of Japan, as a candidate for the post of IMF Managing Director.
On Thursday, March 16, Jose Pedro de Morais, Jr., the Executive Director representing the constituency of African countries that include Angola, announced that he had withdrawn the nomination of Stanley Fischer, currently Acting IMF Managing Director, to the position of Managing Director, at Fischer’s request. Fischer also issued a statement, excerpts of which follow:
“I was honored to have been nominated for the position of Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund by Mr. Jose Pedro de Morais, Jr., and by the support of other Executive Directors.
“In view of the emerging consensus behind the candidacy of Horst Köhler, President, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, I have asked Mr. de Morais to withdraw my nomination. I am deeply grateful for the confidence he and his colleagues and the countries they represent have expressed in me.
“I had an excellent meeting this morning with Mr. Köhler, during which we discussed the challenges the IMF faces. I am confident that under his leadership the IMF will become an even more effective institution. I look forward to working closely with him, my colleagues in management and the staff, as well as the members of the IMF, as we move forward.”
Köhler holds a doctorate in economics and political science from Tübingen University. He has been president of the EBRD since September 1998. Previous positions include president of the German Savings Bank Association and European Savings Bank Group from 1993 to 1998. He also served as Germany’s Deputy Minister of Finance from 1990 to 1993, having previously held a number of posts at the Federal Ministry of Economics and the Federal Ministry of Finance from 1976 through 1989.
Following are edited excerpts of the statement by Bernd Esdar, Executive Director for Germany, nominating Horst Köhler.
The government of Germany is grateful to the member states of the European Union for their unanimous expression of support in nominating Horst Köhler as their candidate for Managing Director of the IMF.
Mr. Köhler is eminently qualified to lead the IMF at the dawn of a new century.
As President of the EBRD, as president of the German Savings Bank Association, and as Germany’s Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr. Köhler has performed with distinction, drawing the praise of the international community for his policy orientation, his strategic outlook, and his vigorous commitment to dialogue and partnership as the basis for successful international cooperation.
In 1990, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Finance, playing a central role in the process of political unification of Germany.
Most notable at this period is his work in the realm of international financial and monetary policy. He served as a Group of Seven Deputy and “sherpa” in the preparation of the world economic summits in Houston (1990), London (1991), Munich (1992) and Tokyo (1993). His wide knowledge and deep understanding of the complexities of reunification helped prepare the international community for the inclusion of Russia in the Group of Seven process.
As Deputy Minister, one of Mr. Köhler’s duties was to formulate the German government’s position on all issues of the operating policy of the IMF. Besides his duties in connection with the IMF, he also served as Deputy Governor at the World Bank and was intensely concerned with issues of development policy.
In August 1993, Mr. Köhler followed a call from the German Savings Bank Association to become its president. In this capacity, he initiated a structural change in this financial group to improve its competitiveness. But he also understood this group as contributing to a political concept and process for adjusting to globalization, while at the same time safeguarding economic and social stability at the local level.
In September 1998, with the unanimous backing of its shareholders, Mr. Köhler became president of the EBRD in London. He took over the institution in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis in Russia. He orchestrated a cleanup of the project pipeline and a successful review of the EBRD’s medium-term strategy and thus not only led it to profitability again but also strengthened it to better meet the transition challenges ahead.
During his EBRD presidency, he strongly advocated closer cooperation among the multilateral development banks and the IMF, with two pilot initiatives for enhanced cooperation (in Romania and the Kyrgyz Republic) launched last year.
Mr. Köhler knows the international financial world from all points of view. He is equally familiar with macroeconomic policy, structural adjustment and investment financing. Both crisis prevention and crisis management are among his strong suits, as is his ability as a good communicator.
The full text of Press Release Nos. 00/18 and 00/19, as well as nominating statements, Köhler’s curriculum vitae, and statements by Fischer and Morais, is available on the IMF’s website (http://www.imf.org).
Photo Credits: Denio Zara, Padraic Hughes, Michael Spilotro, and Pedro Marquez for the IMF, pages 81 and 83-84; Odd Anderson for AFP, page 85.