As the title of the job suggests, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund is traditionally a European. In Europe, presidents are called managing directors.
The present head of the fund, Jacques de Larosiere of France, succeeded Johannes Witteveen of Holland in 1978. He, unlike his counterpart at the bank, will be head of the fund, with its 140 member countries, for some time.
Formerly the top civil servant in the French treasury, de Larosiere had been involved in international economic affairs for many years before becoming the fund's managing director.
He is reportedly a perfectionist with an eye for detail, expects to make his own decisions and does not suffer fools gladly.
The fund is in the business of monitoring the working of the world's finanncial system, and keeping track of the balance of payments, exchange rates and other economic developments in its member countries.
It is supposed to oil the wheels of international trade and payments by lending money to countries with severe balance-of-payments difficulties, to tide them over for a year or two while they try to boost their export earnings and cut their import bills. Once a country has borrowed a certain amount, the fund attaches conditions before it can borrow anymore.
These policy strings are aimed at putting the country back on the road to solvency and curing their payments problem. They usually call for rather unpleasant medicine -- in the form of cuts in public spending, other measures to lower demand and a drop in the country's exchange rate. Hence the fund's unpopularity among some developing, debtor countries.
An organizational chart of the IMF would show a very strange management structure: De Larosiere has close to 20 staff executives reporting directly to him on their department's affiars. Three of them are also "counsellors," or special advisers, chosen by the managing director not because of their departmental responsibilities, but for their personal qualities and abilities.
The head of the research department, William C. Hood; the British director of the European department, L. Alan Whittome, and the treasurer, Walter O. Habermeier, are de Larosiere's special advisers.
As well as being head of the fund's staff, de Larosiere is chairman of the executive board. In addition to the managing director and his deputy, American William B. Dale, the board has 21 members from different countries in the fund. All have staffs and offices in the fund building on 19th Street NW; their expenses are included in the IMF's annual budget.
Six countries have their own representatives on the executive board -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Japan and Saudi Arabia, who was given its own seat as one of the fund's two largest creditors. The other 15 executive directors between them represent 134 member countries from all around the world.
The board meets frequently -- sometimes as often as five time a week -- and generally meetings run until a consensus is reached rather than a vote taken.
Board members consult with their home countries as well as their Washington staffs on all important papers under discussion.
Some fund decisions, such as whether to admit monetary representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization as observers to this week's meetings, as referred back to the 140-member board of governors. This consists of a member from each country in the IMF, usually the treasury minister or head of the central bank, and meets once a year at the joint annual meeting.
The fund's own staff is divided between five geographical departments, whch closely follow events in their department's countries and advise on lending to those who are in need, and various functional departments with special responsibility for research, gathering statistics, monitoring exchange rates, advising on tax and spending policies, and so on.
Most of the work on more general policy questions -- such as how the international money system should develop, what the fund can do to ease the difficulties of recycling money from countries in surplus to those in deficit, and whether it should change its policies on money creation or lending -- is done by the research department or the exchange and trade relations department. d