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Tyskar och fransmän kohandlar om IMF och ECB

Tyskland och Frankrike har i hemlighet kommit överens om hur ECB ska styras.

IMF utgör en bricka i det tysk-franska spelet.

EU ska understödja tysken Horst Kohlers kanditatur i IMF. Frankrike får i stället cherfsskapet i ECB. Deta innebär att Gerhard Schröder, den tyske förbundskanslern accepterar Wim Duisenbergs tidiga avgång.

Han ersätts - som Frankrike krävt hela tiden - av Jean-Claud Trichet f n chef för den franska centralbanken.

Överenskommelsen väntas knappast förhållandena mellan Tyskland och USA.

Germans bank on secret French deal over IMF
The Times, 2000-03-13

GERMANY has reached a secret understanding with France on the future management of the European Central Bank as part of a broader deal to place a German candidate at the head of the International Monetary Fund.

This is the pact that now seems to have paved the way for the European Union to endorse the German candidate for the IMF today in Brussels, despite the risk that Washington may object.

Most leading EU countries have indicated that they will back Horst Kohler at a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels, albeit with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

According to central banking sources in Frankfurt, Gerhard Schröder, the German Chancellor, is ready to accept the early retirement of Wim Duisenberg, the European Central Bank president, and his replacement by Jean-Claude Trichet, the governor of the French central bank.

That apparent concession to the French - in effect, making Mr Duisenberg a lame duck - is in return for Paris having backed the German candidates for the IMF job - first Caio Koch-Weser and now Herr Kohler.

The search for a replacement for Michel Camdessus, the previous managing director of the IMF, has caused a serious rift between Germany and the United States, and the acrimony is becoming increasingly public.

Michael Steiner, the chief diplomatic adviser to Herr Schröder, told The New York Times yesterday: "It's been quite an experience trying to hit this moving target set by the Clinton Administration. We have discovered that the superpower sees its global role not only in the military area but also in setting the rules of globalisation throughout the IMF."

The German approach was to say 'Now we are grown up, we're going to show you we're grown up, and we're just going to do it without prior consultation, without lobbying, without involving our embassies - nothing'," replied a senior American official.

Meanwhile, the determination of Herr Schröder to save face in the increasingly muddy contest for the IMF leadership has thus led his country to surrender one of the key tenets of recent German policy: that the French should be kept away from the day to day running of the euro until ordinary Germans have finally come to accept the death of the mark.

The Chancellor rang Hans Eichl, his Finance Minister, in Tokyo, who was furious. He told friends: "If the French really want us to withdraw, it will cost them dearly." The French, however, came round without any need for further German bluster. The idea that America was prepared to field a candidate concentrated Parisian minds wonderfully. The clinching element was German willingness to pull the rug from under Mr Duisenberg, although it favours a switch over of president in 2003 - safely after the 2002 German general election - not 2002, as the French would prefer.

The German Government has lost its enthusiasm for Mr Duisenberg over the past few months. M Trichet is regarded as a strong opponent of inflation, and a man who would firm up the euro.

"He's almost an honorary German," said a central banker in Frankfurt. The comment was not supposed to be flattering.

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