George Osborne fails to land another job as new IMF chief announced

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Former chancellor George Osborne. Photo: PA

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced a Bulgarian economist as its new managing director, dashing former UK chancellor George Osborne’s hopes of landing the job.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson had supported Osborne’s bid for the high-profile role, which raised eyebrows as he is reported to have taken at least nine jobs since leaving office in 2016.

The IMF confirmed Kristalina Georgieva had been appointed managing director and chair late on Wednesday as expected, replacing Christine Lagarde from 1 October.

The organisation is known as the world’s “lender of last resort”, and employs around 2,700 staff.

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Georgieva is currently the chief executive of the World Bank, though took a leave of absence during her appointment process.

The centre-right politician, who grew up under communist rule in Bulgaria, is the first candidate from an emerging market economy to head the IMF.

Backed by French president Emmanuel Macron, she is described by Reuters as a “tenacious straight shooter, champion of gender equality and leader in the global fight against climate change.”

IMF managing director-in-waiting Kristalina Georgieva, right, and the leader she is replacing, Christine Lagarde. Photo: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

She told reporters “warning signs are flashing” internationally as she prepares to start work, with global trade tensions, an economic slowdown and Argentina’s economic crisis high among the challenges facing her.

Osborne, who oversaw a period of dramatic austerity cuts in Britain as chancellor before becoming editor of the Evening Standard newspaper, was even recommended by Johnson to US president Donald Trump.

But Georgieva won with the backing of EU member states, with Britain’s looming departure from the EU potentially denting Osborne’s cause.