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Bulgarian Economist Georgieva Approved As IMF Chief

Kristalina Georgieva

WASHINGTON -- Kristalina Georgieva, an economist who grew up under communism in Bulgaria, has been confirmed as the new managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The global lender’s executive board on September 25 voted to name the 66-year-old Georgieva to succeed Christine Lagarde, who stepped down to become head of the European Central Bank.

"It is a huge responsibility to be at the helm of the IMF at a time when global economic growth continues to disappoint, trade tensions persist, and debt is at historically high levels," the Bulgarian economist said in a statement.

"This means also dealing with issues like inequalities, climate risks, and rapid technological change."

Georgieva will assume the role on October 1. To allow her to take the position, the Washington-based IMF made an exception to its rule requiring the director to be under 65 years of age when assuming the post.

Georgieva was the choice of European Union governments for the five-year term, winning the support on August 2 of a majority of the 28 EU states after two rounds of voting.

Georgieva, a center-right politician, has served since 2017 as chief executive of the World Bank, the body’s No. 2 position. Following the EU vote, she said that she had requested "administrative leave" from the World Bank.

In 2016, the economist was a candidate to become UN secretary-general before losing out to Antonio Guterres of Portugal.

Georgieva was born on August 13, 1953, in Sofia, capital of then-Communist Bulgaria. The country is now a member of NATO and the EU.

After earning a PhD in economic science, Georgieva taught at the London School of Economics, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard Business School.

She was also World Bank director for Russia, based in Moscow, in 2004. She is fluent in Russian along with English.

By an informal agreement, a European traditionally leads the IMF, while an American heads the World Bank.

The 189-country IMF provides members with economic advice and financial assistance.

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