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Christine Lagarde

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Christine Lagarde
Lagarde in 2020
President of the European Central Bank
Assumed office
1 November 2019
Vice PresidentLuis de Guindos
Preceded byMario Draghi
Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund
In office
5 July 2011 – 12 September 2019
Preceded byDominique Strauss-Kahn
Succeeded byKristalina Georgieva
Minister of Economics, Finance and Industry
In office
19 June 2007 – 29 June 2011
Prime MinisterFrançois Fillon
Preceded byJean-Louis Borloo
Succeeded byFrançois Baroin
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries
In office
18 May 2007 – 18 June 2007
Prime MinisterFrançois Fillon
Preceded byDominique Bussereau
Succeeded byMichel Barnier
Minister for Foreign Trade
In office
2 June 2005 – 15 May 2007
Prime MinisterDominique de Villepin
Preceded byFrançois Loos
Succeeded byHervé Novelli
Personal details
Christine Madeleine Odette Lallouette

(1956-01-01) 1 January 1956 (age 68)
9th arrondissement of Paris, France
Political partyUnion for a Popular Movement (2007–2011)
Other political
European People's Party
Wilfried Lagarde
(m. 1982; div. 1992)
EducationParis Nanterre University
Sciences Po Aix

Christine Madeleine Odette Lagarde (French: [kʁistin madlɛn ɔdɛt laɡaʁd]; née Lallouette, IPA: [lalwɛt]; born 1 January 1956) is a French politician and lawyer who has been serving as President of the European Central Bank since 2019. She previously served as the 11th Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 2011 to 2019. Lagarde had also served in the Government of France, most prominently as Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry from 2007 until 2011. She is the first woman to hold each of those posts.[1]

Born and raised in Paris, Lagarde graduated from law school at Paris Nanterre University and obtained a Master's degree from Sciences Po Aix. After being admitted to the Paris Bar, she joined the international law firm Baker & McKenzie as an associate in 1981, specializing in labor and anti-trust, as well as mergers and acquisitions. Rising through the ranks, she was a member of the executive committee of the firm from 1995 until 1999, before being elevated to its Chair between 1999 and 2004; she was the first woman in both positions. She held the top post until she decided to go into public service.

Lagarde returned to France when appointed Minister of Foreign Trade from 2005 to 2007, then briefly served as Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries from May to June 2007, and finally, as minister of finance from 2007 to 2011, making her the first female to hold the finance portfolio of any Group of Eight economy. During her tenure, Lagarde oversaw the government response to the late 2000s financial crisis, for which the Financial Times ranked her the best finance minister in the Eurozone.[2]

On 5 July 2011, she was elected to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn as managing director of the IMF for a five-year term.[3][4][5] Her appointment was the 11th consecutive appointment of a European to head the IMF.[6] She was selected by consensus for a second five-year term, starting 5 July 2016, being the only candidate nominated for the post.[7] In December 2016, a French court convicted her of negligence relating to her role in the Bernard Tapie arbitration,[8] but did not impose a penalty. Lagarde resigned from the IMF following her nomination as president of the ECB.

In 2019, 2020, 2022 and 2023, Forbes ranked her number two on its World's 100 Most Powerful Women list.[9][10][11]

Early life and education


Christine Lagarde was born in Paris, France,[12] into a family of teachers. Her father, Robert Lallouette, "born to a Jewish mother and a non-religious father.",[13] was an English teacher; her mother, Nicole (Carré),[14] was a Latin, Greek and French literature teacher. Lagarde and her three younger brothers spent their childhood in Le Havre. There she attended the Lycée François 1er (where her father taught) and Lycée Claude Monet.[15][16][17]

As a teenager, Lagarde was a member of the French national synchronised swimming team.[18] After her baccalauréat in 1973, she went on an American Field Service scholarship to the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland.[19][20] During her year in the United States, Lagarde worked as an intern at the U.S. Capitol as Representative William Cohen's congressional assistant, helping him correspond with French-speaking constituents from his northern Maine district during the Watergate hearings.[19][20] She graduated from Paris Nanterre University, where she obtained master's degrees in English, labour law, and social law.[21][22] She also holds a master's degree from the Institut d'études politiques in Aix-en-Provence.[18][23] Since 2010, she has presided over the Aix school's board of directors.[24]

Professional career


Lagarde joined Baker & McKenzie, a large Chicago-based international law firm, in 1981. She was a director of two of the firm's subsidiaries in tax havens.[25] She handled major antitrust and labour cases, was made partner after six years and was named head of the firm in Western Europe. She joined the executive committee in 1995 and was elected the company's first female chairman in October 1999.[26][27][28][29] Three years later she was reelected. At Baker & McKenzie Lagarde promulgated a “client first” approach whereby lawyers anticipated client needs rather than solely reacting to exigent situations.[30]

In 2004, Lagarde became president of the Global Strategic Committee.[31]

Ministerial career


As France's trade minister between 2005 and May 2007, Lagarde prioritized opening new markets for the country's products, focusing on the technology sector. On 18 May 2007, she was moved to the Ministry of Agriculture as part of the government of François Fillon.[32] The following month she joined Fillon's cabinet in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Finance and Employment.[33] She was the only member of the French political class to condemn Jean-Paul Guerlain's racist remarks of 2010.[34] In government, she implemented liberal economic reforms, such as liberalizing the labor market, lowering estate taxes, and an austerity plan for public services.[35]

International Monetary Fund



Lagarde in 2011

On 25 May 2011, Lagarde announced her candidacy to be head of the IMF to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn, upon his resignation.[36] Her candidacy received the support of the British, Indian, United States, Brazilian, Russian, Chinese and German governments.[37][38][39][40][41] The governor of the Bank of Mexico (and former Secretary of Finance) Agustín Carstens was also nominated for the post. His candidacy was supported by many Latin American governments, as well as Spain, Canada and Australia.[37]

On 28 June 2011, the IMF board elected Lagarde as its next managing director and chairman for a five-year term, starting on 5 July 2011.[3][4][5] The IMF's executive board praised both Lagarde and Carstens as well-qualified, but decided on the former by consensus. Lagarde became the first woman to be elected as the head of the IMF.[3] Carstens would have been the first non-European. Her appointment came amid the intensification of the European sovereign debt crisis especially in Greece, with fears looming of loan defaults. The United States in particular supported her speedy appointment in light of the fragility of Europe's economic situation.[42]

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that Lagarde's "exceptional talent and broad experience will provide invaluable leadership for this indispensable institution at a critical time for the global economy."[5] President Nicolas Sarkozy referred to Lagarde's appointment as "a victory for France." Oxfam, a charity working in developing nations, called the appointment process "farcical" and argued that what it saw as a lack of transparency hurt the IMF's credibility.[43]

On 17 December 2015, Michel Sapin, French Finance Minister, said that Lagarde could stay on as head of the IMF, despite being charged with criminal negligence.[44] Throughout her time at the IMF, she repeatedly ruled herself out of the races to secure a top job in Europe, including the positions of President of the European Commission and President of the European Central Bank.[45] On 2 July 2019, Lagarde was nominated to serve as the next president of the ECB, to succeed Mario Draghi.[46] She subsequently submitted her resignation as managing director.[47]


Alistair Darling (left) with Lagarde and Timothy Geithner (right) in 2009

In July 2010, Lagarde told the PBS NewsHour that the IMF's lending program for distressed European countries was "a very massive plan, totally unexpected, totally counter-treaty, because it wasn't scheduled in the treaty that we should do a bailout program, as we did." She also said, "we had essentially a trillion dollars on the table to confront any market attack that would target any country, whether it's Greece, Spain, Portugal, or anybody within the eurozone." With respect to the French economy, she stated that besides short-term stimulus efforts: "we must, very decisively, cut our deficit and reduce our debt."[48]

In public remarks made right after her appointment, Lagarde stated that both the IMF and EU required Greek austerity measures as a prerequisite for further aid. She said, "If I have one message tonight about Greece, it is to call on the Greek political opposition to support the party that is currently in power in a spirit of national unity."[5] She said of her predecessor that: "The IMF has taken up the challenges of the crisis thanks to the actions of Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn and to his team as well."[40] On 25 December 2011, Lagarde argued that the world economy was at risk and urged Europeans to unify in terms of the debt crisis facing the continent.[49]

Lagarde during the World Economic Forum 2013

In July 2012, as the Greek economy continued to decline, and the country's leaders asked for an easing of the terms of external assistance, Lagarde said she was "not in the negotiation or renegotiation mood at all."[50][51] A year later, though, with her own organization conceding that its "rescue" package for Greece had fallen short of what was required, Lagarde—having previously said that Greece's debt burden was "sustainable"—decided that Greece would not recover unless its debt was written off in a meaningful way.[52][53] According to Yanis Varoufakis, the combative former Finance Minister of Greece, Lagarde and others at the top of the IMF were quite sympathetic behind closed doors, while stating that inside the Eurogroup there were "a few kind words and that was it".[54] As the crisis peaked again in summer 2015, Lagarde's organization made headlines by calling for massive debt relief for Greece,[55] a call she reiterated personally.[56] In 2016, the IMF refused to participate with eurozone countries in further emergency financing for Greece, because concrete measures to relieve the country of its debt burden remained absent.[57]

Lagarde addressing at the Singapore FinTech Festival 2017
Lagarde during the Munich Security Conference 2018

Questioned about her economic philosophy, Lagarde has described herself as "with Adam Smith—that is, liberal."[58]

"Payback" controversy


In an interview in May 2012, Lagarde was asked about the Greek government-debt crisis. She mentioned Greek tax avoidance, and assented to the interviewer's suggestion that Greeks had "had a nice time" but now "it is payback time."[59][60] Her comments provoked controversy, with future Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stating, "We don't need her compassion," and then-Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos saying she had "insulted the Greek people."[61][62] In an effort to quell the negative response, the next day Lagarde made a post to her Facebook page saying: "As I have said many times before, I am very sympathetic to the Greek people and the challenges they are facing."[63] Within 24 hours, over 10,000 comments had been left in response, many of them obscene.[61]

In response to Lagarde's belief that not enough Greeks paid their taxes, Professor Emeritus John Weeks of the University of London said, "The moral weight of Christine Lagarde's matronising of the Greeks to pay their taxes is not strengthened by the fact that, as director of the IMF, she is in receipt of a tax-free annual salary of $468,000 (£298,000, plus perks)."[64][65] Robert W. Wood, in a Forbes article, wrote that "No taxes is the norm for most United Nations employees covered by a convention on diplomatic relations signed by most nations."[66]

Comment on King Abdullah


In January 2015, on the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Lagarde said "he was a strong believer in pushing forward women's rights",[67] prompting a number of observers to comment on the life of women generally in Saudi Arabia.[68]

Loan to Argentina


In 2019, the IMF granted Argentina a loan of $57 billion - equivalent to 10% of GDP. The loan, then the largest in the Fund's history, sparked controversy within the financial institution, as such a sum was far too high for such an economically fragile country. U.S. President Donald Trump and IMF President Christine Lagarde, however, interceded to have this loan request validated to support Mauricio Macri, struggling in the polls in the run-up to the 2019 presidential election. To get this deal through the official analysis grid, IMF teams used growth assumptions that would turn out to be profoundly unrealistic. The loan was then disbursed very quickly, before the election, but would lead Argentina into a serious debt crisis, with the country unable to meet its debts.[69]

European Central Bank

Vote of the European Parliament on Lagarde's nomination

On 2 July 2019, Christine Lagarde was nominated by the European Council to succeed Mario Draghi as President of the European Central Bank (ECB) on 1 November 2019.[46] On 17 September 2019, the European Parliament voted via secret ballot to recommend her to the position, with 394 in favor, 206 opposed, and 49 abstentions.[70]

As president, Lagarde is expected to maintain the accommodative monetary policy of her predecessor, Mario Draghi.[71] When addressing the European Parliament's ECON Committee ahead of her appointment, Lagarde also expressed her willingness to make the ECB play a role in fighting climate change[72] and to carry out a review of the ECB's monetary policy framework.[73]

She received the insignia of Commander of the National Order of Merit from Emmanuel Macron in February 2022. According to the French press, Nicolas Sarkozy suggested to Emmanuel Macron that she becomes his prime minister in case of re-election in the French presidential election of 2022.[35]

Other activities


European Union institutions


International organizations


Non-profit organizations


Academic institutions




The Lagarde list


In 2010 Lagarde, then finance minister of France, sent a list of 1,991 names of Greek customers who were potential tax avoiders with bank accounts at HSBC's Geneva branch to the Greek government.[79]

On 28 October 2012, Greek reporter and editor Kostas Vaxevanis claimed to be in possession of the list and published a document with more than 2,000 names in his magazine Hot Doc.[80][81] He was immediately arrested on charges of breaching privacy laws with a possible sentence of up to two years in prison.[82] After a public outcry, Vaxevanis was found not guilty three days later.[83] Vaxevanis then faced a retrial (the Greek authorities were yet to charge anyone on the list),[84] but was acquitted again. A few days before the Greek general elections of January 2015, when it was clear that left-wing Syriza would come to power, the financial crimes police of the conservative government of Antonis Samaras shredded reams of documents pertaining to corruption cases.[85]

Conviction of negligence in allowing the misuse of public funds


On 3 August 2011, La Cour de Justice de la République, a special court in France set up to judge ministers and public officials for alleged crimes committed while in office, ordered an investigation into Lagarde's role in a 2007 €403 million arbitration deal in favour of businessman Bernard Tapie when she was finance minister.[86] On 20 March 2013, Lagarde's apartment in Paris was raided by French police as part of the investigation.[87] On 24 May 2013, after two days of questioning at the Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR), Lagarde was assigned the status of "assisted witness", meaning that she herself was not under investigation in the affair.[88] According to a press report from June 2013, Lagarde was described by Stéphane Richard, the CEO of France Telecom (a former aide to Lagarde when she was finance minister), who was himself put under formal investigation in the case, as having been fully briefed before approving the arbitration process which benefitted Bernard Tapie.[89][90]

In 2013, the press revealed an undated hand-written letter seized by investigators during a search of Christine Lagarde's Paris home, in which she appears to express her full allegiance to then-President Nicolas Sarkozy: "Use me for as long as it suits you and suits your action and your casting. (...) If you use me, I need you as a guide and as a support: without a guide, I risk being ineffective, without a support I risk having little credibility. With my immense admiration. Christine L."[91]

Subsequently, in August 2014 the CJR announced that it had formally approved a negligence investigation into Lagarde's role in the arbitration of the Tapie case.[92] On 17 December 2015, the CJR ordered Lagarde to stand trial before it for alleged negligence in handling the Tapie arbitration approval.[93][94][95]

In December 2016, the court found Lagarde guilty of negligence, but declined to impose either a fine or custodial penalty.[96]



Lagarde was interviewed in the documentary film Inside Job (2010), which later won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[97][98]

The American fashion magazine Vogue profiled Lagarde in September 2011.[58]

Lagarde was portrayed by Laila Robins in the HBO television film Too Big to Fail (2011), which was based on the popular non-fiction book of the same name by The New York Times journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin.[99]

Meryl Streep based parts of Miranda Priestly's appearance in the feature film The Devil Wears Prada (2006) on Lagarde, citing her "unassailable elegance and authority".[100]

Lagarde presented the 2014 Richard Dimbleby Lecture, titled "A New Multilateralism for the 21st Century".[101][102]




  • 2011 – 9th Most Powerful Woman in the World, named by Forbes magazine[103]
  • 2012 – 8th Most Powerful Woman in the World, named by Forbes magazine[104]
  • 2013 – 7th Most Powerful Woman in the World, named by Forbes magazine[105]
  • 2014 – 5th Most Powerful Woman in the World, named by Forbes magazine[106]
  • 2015 – 6th Most Powerful Woman in the World, named by Forbes magazine[107]
  • 2016 – 6th Most Powerful Woman in the World, named by Forbes magazine[108]
  • 2017 – 8th Most Powerful Woman in the World, named by Forbes magazine
  • 2017 – #1 in the List of 100 Most Influential People in Multinational Organisations, awarded by UK-based company Richtopia[109]
  • 2018 – 3rd Most Powerful Woman in the World, named by Forbes magazine
  • 2019 – CARE Humanitarian Award, awarded by CARE
  • 2019 – Distinguished International Leadership Award, awarded by the Atlantic Council
  • 2019 – 2nd Most Powerful Woman in the World, named by Forbes magazine
  • 2020 – 2nd Most Powerful Woman in the World, named by Forbes magazine[10]
  • 2022 – 2nd Most Powerful Woman in the World, named by Forbes magazine[110]
  • 2023 – 2nd Most Powerful Woman in the World, named by Forbes magazine[111]



Honorary doctorate


Personal life


Lagarde has been in three long-term relationships, one of which has been confirmed to have resulted in a marriage, while sources differ on whether the other two relationships resulted in a marriage. She married her first partner, French financial analyst Wilfried Lagarde, in 1982 and divorced him in 1992. The couple have two sons, Pierre-Henri Lagarde (born 1986) and Thomas Lagarde (born 1988).[114][115] Her second relationship was with the British businessman Eachran Gilmour. Sources differ on whether she ever married Gilmour.[116] Since 2006, she has been in a relationship with French entrepreneur Xavier Giocanti,[117] a fellow-student at Université Paris X.[114][118] Some sources have described their relationship as married, but no marriage date has ever been publicized.[119][120]

She is a health-conscious vegetarian,[121][120] and her hobbies include regular trips to the gym, cycling, and swimming.[17]

She speaks French, English and Spanish.[115] After she took office as president of the European Central Bank, it was reported that she intends to learn German.[122]


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