Any other business

Christine Lagarde didn’t create the Greek crisis. But she might not survive it

Plus: Carolyn Fairbairn, new director-general of the CBI; and how long will Mark Carne last as head of Network Rail?

4 July 2015

9:00 AM

4 July 2015

9:00 AM

The Greek drama took a turn few of us expected last week, when the world thought compromise was imminent. What happens after Sunday’s referendum is anyone’s guess — but recrimination is already flying, much of it aimed at IMF managing director Christine Lagarde. Having inherited the Greek headache from her predecessor Dominique Strauss-Kahn after his resignation in 2011, she has always talked tough — but now stands accused of setting aside IMF rules, as well as long-established blueprints for debt relief and the views of many of the Fund’s own economists, in order to stay aligned with the European Commission and the European Central Bank in the ‘troika’ of bailout negotiators.

Underlying these criticisms is the implication that, as a former French finance minister, Lagarde has allowed Europe’s political imperative — preservation of the euro at all costs — to overwhelm IMF principles. More usually thought to be dominated by US influence like its Washington neighbour, the World Bank, the IMF is being painted as Europe’s stooge. If the failure of the troika to negotiate a durable settlement at an earlier stage leads to the wipeout of Greece’s €24 billion debt to the IMF, nations -poorer than Greece will find funding harder to access in future. It’s also increasingly unlikely that Lagarde will be reappointed when her term ends next year — or perhaps even that the job will go to another European, as it has done since the fund was created in 1946.

Much of my sympathy is with Lagarde, who has always struck me as a woman of formidable integrity and intellect. Of course the troika needed to present a united front when Europe’s wider financial stability was at stake — and as with any bad debt, national or personal, responsibility rests far more with the borrower than the lenders. This cataclysm has been caused by profligate and dishonest Greek politicians, abetted by Brussels — but there’s bound to be collateral damage, and I’m sorry to say that Christine Lagarde’s career is beginning to look like toast.

Head of whose values?

Would it be unkind to suggest that the CBI has chosen as its new director-general the female equivalent of Ian Fletcher from W1A — the BBC’s fictional Head of Values, played by Hugh Bonneville?

Yes, it probably would. But the CV of the successful candidate, Carolyn Fairbairn, is certainly in tune with the zeitgeist. Like three of her six CBI predecessors, she comes from the stable of McKinsey, the Teflon-coated management consultancy that has enjoyed ‘Pretty much uninterrupted access to 10 Downing Street for decades,’ according to its biographer: indeed, she went straight from McKinsey to the Downing Street policy unit before moving to the BBC to pilot its ‘building public value’ strategy. My work-experience mole who brought cappuccinos in for the CBI selection panel says she impressed as ‘extremely intelligent and eminently sensible, as well as being charming’. That’s good: the voice of business needs va-va-voom after the sotto voce of retiring director-general John Cridland.

But here’s a caveat. Carolyn Fairbairn has clearly been picked to spearhead the CBI establishment’s pro-EU stance in the referendum debate — and to charm audiences when she sits next to Nigel Farage on Question Time. Fifteen years ago, that establishment was in favour of joining the euro. CBI leaders have always blown with the political wind, rather than representing diversity or radicalism among business views — and that tendency is fuelled by the fact that the body representing British industry has not chosen an authentic industrialist as its spokesman since Sir Terence Beckett of Ford got the job in 1980 and urged members into a ‘bare-knuckle fight’ with Margaret Thatcher. Instead (with the possible exception of Digby Jones, though he’s more tub–thumping today than he was in his CBI days) it has gone for smooth communicators who know the line to take. Still, at least they haven’t appointed Siobhan Sharpe, W1A’s Perfect Curve brand consultant.

Call Sir Herbert

What’s the matter with Network Rail? Almost everything. The ‘not for dividend’, not-quite-nationalised track operator born from the wreckage of privatised Railtrack has turned out to be not-for-delivery as well. Incapable of carrying out the £38 billion five-year plan set for it only last year, the company has been forced to ‘pause’ long-overdue electrifications of the Midland mainline and the Leeds-Manchester route that’s supposed to be the artery of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’. When reprivatisation might have been the best way to inject rigour and urgency, Network Rail has been sucked deeper into the public sector — with its borrowings on the Treasury balance sheet, rather than fudged as before, and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin wading in to replace chairman Richard Parry-Jones, who came from the car industry, with lifelong public-transport man Sir Peter Hendy.

At least the latter move is positive, because railways need experienced railway-men and Network Rail has recently lost several, including former chief executive Sir David Higgins, in a ‘brain drain’ to the higher-paying High Speed 2 project. I can only wonder how long Higgins’s successor Mark Carne, who came from the oil industry, will survive in the job.

In that context I’m delighted to receive a postcard from I.K. Gricer, Christopher Fildes’s long-retired railway correspondent, who reminds me that he served his apprenticeship under Sir Herbert Walker, general manager of Southern Railway from 1923 to 1937 and father of ‘third-rail electrification’ across much of its network. What was Walker’s modus? According to historian Michael Bonavia: ‘First, he was an excellent judge of financial propositions. Next, he eliminated any frills that were not essential to the electrification project itself, and exercised a strict control over estimating, progress checking and finally the monitoring of results.’ Carne, if he hopes to enter the railway hall of fame, should call Walker on the Ouija board.

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  • Mc

    “struck me as a woman of formidable integrity and intellect.”
    Wasnt she the lady who wrote to and promised to blow a French President on demand (or words to that effect), in return for giving her a ministerial post?

    • anyfool

      Dominique Strauss-Kahn liked to goose women then cram something down their throats, not sure if he intended to make foie gras though.

      Is it a French thing.

      • redrum

        montrer les fesses they called it when I worked in Paris and everyone was banging each other in cars in the underground parking (16eme arondissement as well :)). That to one side, Lagarde has done much damage to the reputation of the IMF in her overt pandering to the European project. She should, indeed, depart.

      • aspeckofboggart

        No. It’s only French if he attained word of mouths, never mind the mouth is that of an Asian weekly help or hotel chambermaid.

    • WTF

      Two brown paper bags, for goodness sakes !

      • Mc

        Not sure what you mean – do you mean she was offering him a bribe? I guess a BJ is a form of bribe.

        • Darnell Jackson

          Double bagger = hag

  • michael

    – Well if she must keep signing off those cheques…
    On the other hand , the bad smell of ‘eurocracy’ has become eternal.

  • Rodney H Vincent

    We can hardly blame Christine Lagarde for not choosing the right course over Greece, because now there isn’t one. The sins were those of the past in allowing Greek debt to escalate to the staggering level it is today.

    The only way out now is to suffer some kind of debt write-off because whatever the outcome of the referendum Greece will never pay back what she owes. It’s the price of bad lending in the past, the EU and the IMF took the risk, now they will have to pay the price.

    • Richard

      Important to realise that uk/usa debt is so huge that it can also never be repaid. The only difference with Greece is that they are further down the road.

      • Rodney H Vincent

        Quite right Richard, our one and a half trillion £ debt which is increasing is very worrying but at least we have a much larger population than Greece and a far stronger economy. I do often wonder who are the supposed beneficiaries of all this debt, or to whom it is all owed,
        Is it like the poor, namely always with us?.

  • Chamber Pot

    I don’t like the woman even if Boris has a hard on for her, and she cares nothing for the Greek people.

    The idea that the IMF can put all nations into debt slavery to me is appalling – like any other lender the IMF should lend prudently, and when nations default then the IMF must write the loans off and deny further credit.

    It is Greek politicians and bureaucrats in Brussels that have screwed up in letting the Greeks into the Euro in the first place and not ordinary Greeks. As usual the dead hand of Goldman Sachs has been at work in this Greek tragedy as in others elsewhere.

    When borrowers default in the UK their children are not starved or prevented from receiving medical help ?

  • anyfool

    She was a political appointment, Osborne had a big hand in her appointment, but she is the author of her own mistakes if not corruption, she knew as did many others that Greece could not pay back the vast amounts of money being stuffed down its throat.
    The full truth of this sorry saga will probably never be known, but one thing is more than probable, staggering amounts of the money will have ended up in the pocket of crooks of a political and financial background.

    • Jean-Claude Cameron

      I am awfully sorry to disappoint, Mr. Osborne had no greater influence on this appointment than he was due, my dear friend.

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  • zanzamander

    IMF, much like UN and all international organizations and institutions were formed and are run to promote Socialism. They are all bankrupt. When was the last time EU’s accounts were audited?

    To me Greece is a wonderful example of a country that has shown that you can indeed live beyond your means. Who needs to go to work? Just borrow to the hilt, never save a penny and go spend…spend…spend…

    I urge everyone, including limited companies, never to pay a penny in tax, default on all your loans, just don’t give a toss about anything. Start drinking, smoking, gambling, whoring, parking on yellow lines – do what ever you want to do, just don’t hit or kill anyone. Enjoy life to its fullest.

    I think Greeks, as usual, are ahead from the rest of us.

    • Mynydd

      “To me Greece is a wonderful example of a country that has shown that you can indeed live beyond your means” Therefore you must consider the UK are in the same boat. Last year Mr Cameron/Osborne overspent by some £90bn, and in five years double the National Debt. It’s a good job that Mr Blair/Brown said no to joining the Euro allowing the UK to borrow on the international bond market.

      • davidofkent

        Every country in the Western world has been living beyond its means for 50 years. The difference between Greece and the UK is that in the UK, we have to fund our own profligacy by creating government (taxpayer) debt. In Greece, they expected the Germans to pay for it all. They knew perfectly well that they couldn’t afford to repay or service the money they have borrowed from the rest of the Eurozone.

        • WTF

          Germany (Merkel) allowed it to happen and even promoted it and its the German tax payers that will have to pay for it.

        • goodsoldier

          The troika and the Greeks establishment knew exactly what they were doing. They were in collusion to make large cash sums for themselves. The EU is a cash cow for crooks. And it is our cash–the joke is on us!

    • Sten vs Bren

      “IMF, much like UN and all international organizations and institutions were formed and are run to promote Socialism.”

      No, obviously not. Where do you lot get this stuff from?

      “Start drinking, smoking, gambling, whoring, parking on yellow lines”

      In that order.

      • goodsoldier

        To promote socialism for the ordinary slobs who keep on trusting these shysters who deny their socialism. When will the average person in Britain learn that these people, no mater how elegant, educated and well-connected, want socialism for you and the high-life of power and money for themselves. They are gamblers and full of sh-t when it comes to economics–even this new Caroline Fairbairn woman. Just another elegant tone to intimidate and impress the dumb populace into thinking that they are ignorant peasants for wanting out of the EU. You will never confront such high-class prostitutes in your life!

    • WTF

      True but its the fascist EU and IMF that enabled it !

  • Lady Magdalene

    She shouldn’t survive it.

    She broke the IMF’s rules by using IMF funds to prop up a currency union. The IMF is only supposed to assist countries which have got into economic difficulties.

    She freely admitted “we broke all the Rules because we really wanted to save the Euro.” Note. She didn’t say “because we really wanted to help Greece.”

    She is another member of the EU-obsessed Establishment who will cheerfully break Treaties, Rules and anything else (including it now seems a democracy and country) in order to advance the EU’s project of creating an anti-democratic United States of Europe.

    • Jingleballix

      …………she really wanted to help French banks………..

  • hdb

    Martin must have lost his sanity if he think reprivatisation is the solution to rail’s problems. It is a natural monopoly and trying to turn it into a market has been an expensive job creation scheme for lawyers. We are practically the only European country with a private rail system and we are also the most expensive. Indeed, the profits are so good many state run European train companies have taken franchises here where they can cream off profits to subsidise their own systems at home!

  • Abie Vee

    With luck and a fair wind, the IMF may not survive either! Inshallah.

    • davidofkent

      The IMF has quite a good record of helping countries back on their feet, including the UK in 1976 when Denis Healey had to go cap-in-hand to the IMF.

      • Abie Vee

        A bridging loan until 1979 when North Sea Oil flowed ashore in abundance. Was it Nye Bevan who said: We plant the trees, and the Tories pick the fruits.

      • Abie Vee

        The IMF (Wall Street) .. a well-known charity. It took us almost seventy years to pay back their WWII “aid” (lent out at commercial rates). It bankrupted us.

    • WTF

      God willing but not Allah,heavens save us from Islam.

      • Abie Vee

        There’s only one God…

        • WTF

          Is there, in fact I don’t believe in any God but its a throwaway comment for these times as an atheist like myself.

  • Terry Field

    What is the point of the IMF if it is run by the Europeans, and not only supports the New German Economics, but also acts merely as an interlocutor between the Troica and the poor, quite dreadfully abused Greeks.
    The Synchronised Swimmer is sinking to the bottom of the pool

  • WTF

    And we really care what happens to ANY of the liberal fascists at the EU or IMF, they made their incestuous beds and they can frigging well take the consequences !

    Don’t cry for me Ms.Lagarde, as you have fat cat pensions from all of your appointments underwritten by the tax payers of Europe and the customers of your banking friends. Perhaps you have another 15 years of tax payer funded luxury courtesy of others, so enjoy your retirement

  • The collapse of the EU is slated after the Ukrainian emergency* is taken care of, according to the Marxist plan, since the EU collapse is to be used to form a new union with Russia (from the Atlantic to Vladivostok), a union that can’t take place until (1) the Ukraine situation is calmed, where Russian troops pull out of Crimea and eastern Ukraine; and (2) the image of Russia improves. The European Central Bank (along with the Bank of England, the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan) is sabotaging economic productivity via low interest rates policies. Low interest rates prevent the formation of large capitalized loans for productive investments, since the expected return to the lender–the expected return being based on the interest rate as determined by the central bank–would be too low to cover the large capitalized loan. The economic sabotage policy the West (and Japan) is experiencing is a by-product of the Marxist co-option of the West’s political parties/institutions,** one purpose for the sabotage being to initiate the next major operation under the USSR & Allies’ Long-Range Policy– the collapse of the European Union, to be replaced by a new union with Russia.

    Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Soviet minister of foreign affairs Eduard Shevardnadze on the upcoming new European union with Russia:

    “Editor’s Note: The phrases ‘From the Atlantic to the Urals’, ‘From the Atlantic to Vladivostok’ and ‘From Vancouver to Vladivostok’ are interchangeable in the strategists’ lexicon. In the course of his Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, delivered in Oslo in June 1992, Gorbachev said: ‘Our [sic] vision of the European space from the Atlantic to the Urals is not that of a closed system. Since it includes the Soviet Union [sic], which reaches to the shores of the Pacific, it goes beyond nominal geographical boundaries’. Note that Gorbachev, who had been out of office for six months, referred to the Soviet Union, not Russia. In an interview on Moscow Television on 19 November 1991, Eduard Shevardnadze continued speaking as though he was still Soviet Foreign Minister: ‘I think that the idea of a Common European Home, the building of a united Europe, and I would like to underline today, of great Europe, the building of Great Europe, great, united Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals, from the Atlantic to Vladivostok, including all our territory, most probably a European-Asian space, this project is inevitable. I am sure that we will come to building a united military space as well. To say more precisely: we will build a united Europe, whose security will be based on the principles of collective security. Precisely, collective security’. These statements by key implementers of the strategy reflect the central strategic objective of asserting ‘irreversible’ Russian/Soviet hegemony over Eurasia, thus establishing the primary geographical component of the intended World Government.” — ‘The Perestroika Deception’, by KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn.

    …and here’s more on the upcoming “Atlantic to Vladivostok” union…

    …and here’s Vladimir Putin in 2012 pushing the new union with Europe…

    “Russia is an inalienable and organic part of Greater Europe and European civilization. Our citizens think of themselves as Europeans. We are by no means indifferent to developments in united Europe.

    That is why Russia proposes moving toward the creation of a common economic and human space from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean – a community referred by Russian experts to as “the Union of Europe,” which will strengthen Russia’s potential and position in its economic pivot toward the “new Asia.”‘

    When the new “Atlantic to Vladivostok” union materializes, Communist strategists will have achieved two goals, (1) the further isolation of the United States in the world; and (2) the disbanding of NATO.


    *Approximately 20% of the Marxist front group Islamic [sic] State are Ukraine Ground Forces (UGF) posing as Islamic [sic] State, the UGF mission in Iraq being to cut Iraq’s oil exports–once American ground forces return to Iraq–for the purpose of assisting Russia’s oil based economy, thereby allowing Russia to complete her military modernization program. The Marxist governments of the West and Marxist media* are spinning the reality of what’s taking place in the Ukraine and Iraq, where in the Ukraine the anti-Communist Ukrainian people are waging a war against the Marxist Kiev government and mis-named “Ukrainian separatists” who are really Russian Spetsnaz/Guards Airborne troops assisting the Marxist Kiev government suppress the anti-Communist revolution raging throughout the Ukraine. The revolution could only have occurred thanks to the weakened security apparatus within the Ukraine, where a critical number of Ukraine Ground Forces are currently in Iraq preparing to assist Russia’s oil based economy by destroying Iraq’s oil production.

    With the weakened Marxist security throughout the Ukraine, due to the UGF presence in Iraq, the Ukrainian population destroyed, to date, over 700 statues to the reviled Vladimir Lenin, and other Marxist “heroes”, statues that were supposed to have been destroyed in 1991 if the collapse of the USSR were real and not the strategic ruse it is. Currently approximately 1,400 statues to the butcher of Ukrainian nationalism/Orthodoxy remain standing throughout the Ukraine, rubbing salt into the wounds of every non-Marxist Ukrainian (95% of the population) that is forced to view such monuments to the infamous butcher.

    Russian regular forces are also in the eastern Ukraine (attired in UGF uniforms) fighting the Ukrainian freedom fighters, losing to combat operations approximately 25,000 soldiers, which is why on January 2 Vladimir Putin was ordered by his superiors in the Russian Communist Party to sign a four-year old piece of legislation that allows foreigners who speak Russian to join the Russian military…

    The following is a discovery I made last month regarding the fake collapse of the USSR…

    When Soviet citizens were liberated from 74 years of Marxist oppression on December 26, 1991 there were ZERO celebrations throughout the USSR, proving (1) the “collapse” of the USSR was a strategic ruse; and (2) the political parties of the West were already co-opted by Marxists, otherwise the USSR (and East Bloc nations) couldn’t have gotten away with the ruse.

    ZERO celebrations, as the The Atlantic article inadvertently informs us…

    For more on this discovery see my blog…


    The West will form new political parties where candidates are vetted for Marxist ideology, the use of the polygraph to be an important tool for such vetting. Then the West can finally liberate the globe of vanguard Communism.

    **The failed socialist inspired and controlled pan-European revolutions that swept the continent in 1848 thought Marxists and socialists a powerful lesson, that lesson being they couldn’t win overtly, so they adopted the tactic of infiltration of the West’s political parties/institutions. In the case of the United States…(continue reading at DNotice)…

    Now you know why not one political party in the West requested verification of the collapse of the USSR, and the media failed to alert your attention to this fact, including the “alternative” media. When determining whether the “former” USSR is complying with arms control treaties, what does the United States do to confirm compliance? Right, the United States sends into the “former” USSR investigative teams to VERIFY compliance, yet when it’s the fate of the West that’s at stake should the collapse of the USSR be a ruse, what does the United States do to confirm the collapse? Nothing!

    The fraudulent “collapse” of the USSR (and East Bloc) couldn’t have been pulled off until both political parties in the United States (and political parties elsewhere in the West) were co-opted by Marxists, which explains why verification of the “collapse” was never undertaken by the West, such verification being (1) a natural administrative procedure (since the USSR wasn’t occupied by Western military forces); and (2) necessary for the survival of the West. Recall President Reagan’s favorite phrase, “Trust, but verify”.

    It gets worse–the “freed” Soviets and West also never (1) de-Communized the Soviet Armed Forces of its Communist Party officer corps, which was 90% officered by Communist Party members; and (2) arrested/de-mobilized the 6-million vigilantes that assisted the Soviet Union’s Ministry of the Interior and police control the populations of the larger cities during the period of “Perestroika” (1986-1991)!

    There can be no collapse of the USSR (or East Bloc nations) without…

    Verification, De-Communization and De-mobilization.

    The West never verified the collapse of the USSR because no collapse occurred, since if a real collapse had occurred the West would have verified it, since the survival of the West depends on verification. Conversely, this proves that the political parties of the West were co-opted by Marxists long before the fraudulent collapse of the USSR, since the survival of the West depends on verification.

    The above means that the so-called “War on Terror” is an operation being carried out by the Marxist co-opted governments of the West in alliance with the USSR and other Communist nations, the purpose being to (1) destroy the prominence of the West in the eyes of the world, where the West is seen (i) invading nations without cause; (ii) causing chaos around the globe; and (iii) killing over one-million civilians and boasting of torture; (2) close off non-Russian supplies of oil for export, thereby increasing the price of oil, the higher price allowing oil exporting Russia to maintain economic stability while she modernizes and increases her military forces; (3) destroy the United States Armed Forces via the never-ending “War on Terror”; the ultimate purpose of the aforementioned to (4) bring about the demise of the United States in the world, opening up a political void to be filled by a new pan-national entity composed of Europe and Russia (replacing the European Union), a union “From the Atlantic to Vladivostok”; which will (5) see the end of NATO.

    Now you know how Bolshevik Russia survived in 1917; how the West “lost” China to the Communists in 1949; why the Eisenhower administration turned a deaf ear to the anti-Communist Hungarian uprising in 1956; why the Eisenhower administration in 1959 was indifferent to the Castro brothers’ Communist fidelity, actually used the CIA to overthrow the Batista government; why the Nixon administration abandoned Taiwan for Communist China, and signed treaties/provided economic aid to the USSR; why the Nixon administration refused to tell the American People that over 50% of North Vietnamese NVA regiments were actually Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers (attired in NVA uniforms, and proving that the Sino/Soviet Split was a ruse, as KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn told the West back in 1962), thereby (1) ensuring the Vietnam War would be lost; (2) destroying the prominence of the United States abroad and at home; (3) breeding distrust between the American people and their government; and (4) securing Communist victories in Southeast Asia. Working in the background within the political parties of the United States and Great Britain were Marxist agents doing their best to (1) ensure the survival of Communist nations when they popped up; and (2) sabotage any policies that would bring down a Communist nation. That’s why after the fake collapses of the East Bloc nations and USSR there was no mandatory Western verification process to ensure the Communists weren’t still in control.

  • Richard Brinton

    ” a woman of formidable integrity” This is a bit stiff considering that she as minister of the economy under Nicolas Sarkosy who laundered a €400 million “settlement” in favour of Sarkosy pal Bernard Tapie.

  • John Andrews

    So what IMF rules did Lagarde ignore?

  • rodger the dodger

    “the IMF is being painted as Europe’s stooge.”

    That’s exactly what it is, being run by a cabal of French hardcore socialists. Marx got all his ideas from the post revolutionary French – he didn’t come up with it himself.

    All he did was put it all together in one place.

  • Gilbert White

    She has far more sartorial elegance than most of her ilk especially tramps like Dennis Healy, she cons with flair and elegance who else could carry off matching leather accoutrements with such style outside of the SS?

  • evad666

    Christine works for a supranational organization and hence pays no taxes so what does she care?

    • Gilbert White

      Do not tease tell us more.

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  • bugshead

    She gets zero sympathy from me.

    She was a political appointment, dredged from that vast eurocratic pool of mediocrity. She is a lawyer for heaven’s sake, at best an administrator and certainly not a hard headed financier. Good riddance.

  • TheNew Neandertalien

    Laguarde is nobody. To understand IMF intentions and thus Greece and your near future, check out Ukraine. In Ukraine, IMF allied with local marauders and devalued an already undervalued Ukrainian currency. Devaluation wiped out up to 60% of savings of Ukrainian’s Productive Class. This what expects you, Westerners, in just a couple of years. And that is what expects Greeks this year, with “Drachma”.