Christine Madeleine Odette Lagarde (née Lallouette;) is a French lawyer and the managing director of the International Monetary Fund since July 5, 2011. Previously, she held various ministerial posts in the French government: she was Minister of Economic Affairs, Finances and Industry and before that Minister of Agriculture and Fishing and Minister of Trade in the government of Dominique de Villepin. Christine was the first woman ever to become minister of Economic Affairs of a G8 economy, and is the first woman to ever head the IMF.
A noted antitrust and labour lawyer, Christine made history as the first female chair of the international law firm Baker & McKenzie. On 16 November 2009, The Financial Times ranked her the best minister of finance of the Eurozone. In 2009, Christine was ranked the 17th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine.
On 28 June 2011, she was named as the next managing director of the International Monetary Fund for a five-year term, starting on 5 July 2011, replacing Dominique Strauss-Kahn. This made her the 11th European running to head the IMF.
Christine was born into a family of academics. Her father Robert Lallouette was a Professor of English at the Faculty of Rouen; her mother Nicole worked as a teacher. After graduation in 1974 at the Lycée François 1er in Le Havre, she went with a scholarship to the Holton-Arms School, a girls’ school in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Then she graduated from law school at University Paris X, France, and obtained a Master’s Degree in political science from the Institut d’études politiques d’Aix-en-Provence (Sciences Po Aix). Since 2010, she has presided over the Institute’s board of directors.
Christine worked as an intern at the United States Capitol, as William Cohen’s congressional assistant.
Christine as a teenager was a member of the French national synchronised swimming team. She is divorced and has two sons, Pierre-Henri (born 1986) and Thomas (born 1988). Since 2006 her partner has been the entrepreneur Xavier Giocanti from Marseille. She is a vegetarian and never drinks alcohol. Her hobbies are yoga, scuba diving, swimming and gardening.
Christine joined Baker & McKenzie, a large Chicago-based international law firm, in 1981. She handled major antitrust and labour cases, was made partner after six years and was named head of the firm in Western Europe. She joined the executive committee in 1995 and was elected the company’s first ever female Chairman in October 1999. In 2004, Christine became president of the global strategic committee.
Her personal interest in European affairs led her to open the European Law Centre, an office of Baker & McKenzie in Brussels exclusively dedicated to the practice of European Union law.
As France’s Trade Minister between 2005 and May 2007, Christine prioritized opening new markets for the country’s products, focusing on the technology sector. On 18 May 2007, she was moved to the Ministry of Agriculture as part of the government of François Fillon. The following month she joined François Fillon’s cabinet in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry and Employment to become the first woman to ever be in charge of economic policy in France.
On 25 May 2011, Christine officially announced her candidacy as head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn upon his resignation. Her candidacy received the support of the United States, Russian, Chinese, British, German and Indian governments.
In June 2011, the International Monetary Fund board elected Christine as its next managing director and chairman for a five-year term, starting on 5 July 2011.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said that Christine’s "exceptional talent and broad experience will provide invaluable leadership for this indispensable institution at a critical time for the global economy." Nicolas Sarkozy referred to Christine’s appointment as "a victory for France."
In July 2010, Christine told the PBS News Hour that the IMF lending project was "a very massive plan, totally unexpected, totally counter-treaty, because it wasn’t scheduled in the treaty that we should do a bailout program, as we did." She also said, "we had essentially a trillion dollars on the table to confront any market attack that would target any country, whether it’s Greece, Spain, Portugal, or anybody within the Eurozone." With respect to the French economy, she stated that besides short-term stimulus efforts: "we must, very decisively, cut our deficit and reduce our debt."