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Lagarde: Less than three months to save the euro

June 11th, 2012
04:39 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Action to save the euro is needed in “more shortly than three months,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview.

Lagarde’s tight deadline was a response to billionaire investor George Soros’ prediction that Europe has three months to save the euro.

“The construction of the eurozone has taken time,” Lagarde said. “And it’s a work in construction at the moment.”

Lagarde declined to predict whether Greece would exit the eurozone.

“It’s going to be a question of political determination and drive,” she said.

Lagarde came under fire recently for highlighting Greek tax evasion. She apologized that her comments were taken “in a very inflammatory way and created offence.”

“But equally,” she said, “I think that tax compliance is a necessary tool to restore any country’s situation – Greece, like others.”

Austerity vs. Stimulus

The accelerating crisis in Europe has brought into starker focus than ever the argument over stimulus versus austerity.

In a press conference on Friday that focused heavily on the economic situation in Europe, U.S. President Barack Obama said that austerity, coupled with rising unemployment, “can actually make it harder for [European governments] to carry out some of these reforms over the long term.”

“You need to reduce the fiscal deficit gradually, steadily,” Lagarde said. “It doesn't have to be this belt-tightening that everybody is talking about, but it has to be solid.”

The female Chancellor

Amanpour asked Lagarde if she believed German Chancellor would get so much criticism if she weren’t a woman.

Lagarde seemed taken aback by the question, and took a long pause. “No,” she said.

“I think she’s a very strong leader. She’s a very courageous woman.” Lagarde said.

“It’s, you know, surprisingly and, and very practically, a male-dominated world, where she stands out.”

CNN’s Ken Olshansky produced this piece for television.

soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Gregg

    I'm wondering why the head of the IMF is acting more like the head of the ECB, talking about how to save the Euro. If the Euro is to be saved, Germans have to get off their moral high horse and realize that they better get behind the Geuro.

    June 11, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Reply
    • roialblue

      the germans have got a bit of historical and social baggage to deal with. its in the culture to point the finger and say "you stuffed it you fix it", but they rarely offer help to try improve someone's situation. the culture prefers someone to help themselves rather aid someone in need. there argument will always be who helped us when we screwed up – ourselves. the euro means we are all in this together – somewhat better help out or it could be worse for all.

      June 12, 2012 at 12:52 am | Reply
      • trixie

        I suppose it would be pointless to remind them about the Marshall Plan, NATO, European support for German reunification, etc.

        June 12, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • D. Stone

      It's all about Greed and now it's countries not individuals with at the mercy of the banks!

      If Germany and Europe were so concerned about keeping the beloved Euro together, they would offer these bailouts with low interest or interest free.

      If Greece and Spain are having issues now, do you think it will get better with more loans at even higher rates? The best thing that could happen to all those greedy bankers is for Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Greece to default on those billions and leave the Euro....they'll do ok, just look at England!

      June 14, 2012 at 4:33 am | Reply
  2. Roelof

    The less euro the better. IMF, ECB and Brussel can't run countries. The ESM is the biggest proof that the euro is one big fail. Europe isn't. The EU should exist, countries that work together. The euro is destroying whole Europe. Why? Because within the eurozone we've got countries that don't take finances serious. Normally the markets respond to that. Now markets can't because Germany is in that market, Holland is in that market. When France makes a decision that they want to work until their 60's, the Dutch can't retire at all. When countries have their own currency, they can have their own policy. Of course EU should act as one, when it comes to foreign (continental) policy. The euro makes Europe a slow horse, instead of a dynamic continent with growing economies. The euro should be seen as a tool, not as a goal. Because the euro in't that great. Only by export economies can grow. While Germany believes that their profit of the euro is in export, Spain their banks all in big trouble. Why? Because Spain doesn't export with the euro. All the jobs are in Brazil. With the ESM treaty (illigal), Spain, Germany, Holland, Portugal, Greece are all the same. Spain makes debts (their banks do) other countries have to pay.

    June 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Reply
  3. seawolf73

    However Miss weasel is herself exempt of taxes...too bad to give advices to common "mouses-like"" human beings

    June 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Reply
    • Bushdiver

      I would agree that the EU should stay, but the Euro has to go. The Euro has been nothing but a drag on countries and their citizens, including Germany.

      June 11, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Reply
      • Louise

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        July 7, 2012 at 4:02 am |

      When they are no jobs, they are no revenues, they are no more taxes... You should realize that to reindustrialize if ever, one has to be rewarded the payoffs of his familial long sacrifices .... Do you know your name ? I should do know mine and will definitely pay all of those who currently steal it blash it and crush it....

      June 12, 2012 at 6:50 am | Reply
  4. Roelof

    France could retire at 60 when they would have the Zimbabwe $ .. Frank.. currency. Now they drag the rest of us in their misery. Their democracy, their ideas, their outcome. Now it are banks that need to be helped. Why? When do people need to help banks? Banks should help people.

    June 11, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Reply
  5. Zoglet

    Has anyone else noticed that Amanapour looks like the witch from "storyville"?

    June 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Reply
  6. seawolf73

    However Miss weasel is herself exempt of taxes...IMF pay back the people !

    June 11, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Reply
    • noses.

      If she had to pay taxes, to whom would seh pay them? Hint: Salaries of employees of international organizeations are *always* tax free (but adjusted downward accordingly).

      June 12, 2012 at 6:42 am | Reply
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        July 9, 2012 at 2:25 am |
  7. JoshuaPrime

    Wasn't there a deadline of 10 days sometime last year? Quest sure had fun dramatizing that one. They sure do love their random, arbitrary deadlines and numbers (like last week's helpful '1-in-3 chance that Greece will exit the euro'). Instead of fixating on useless numbers, let's pull out the crowbars and get to work tearing the thing apart. That's what the people will start doing soon (No, I don't want to predict when...)

    June 11, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Reply
  8. Roelof

    When Spain leaves the euro, they'll export (economical growth). Panic should be now, as long the euro exists. The euro is a romantic idea of Brussel that destroys whole Europe.

    June 11, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Reply
  9. Roelof

    Pick up the phone and try to reach one of their multinationals. It's all Spanish, Portugese focus (IVR, interactive voice response). Multinationals in Spain are not used to do business with other continents or British linguistic countries.
    When you want to sell things (economical growth), you've got to speak certain languages. Spain and Portugal have the same spending power as Germany. The import ratio of USA. .Spain should consider to get out of the eurozone, export (only countries Spain is doing business with are countries like South American) and make the Spanish people happy.

    June 11, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Reply
  10. Roelof

    Pick up the phone and try to reach one of their multinationals. It's all Spanish, Portugese focus (IVR, interactive voice response). Multinationals in Spain are not used to do business with other continents or British linguistic countries.
    When you want to sell things (economical growth), you've got to speak certain languages. Spain and Portugal have the same spending power as Germany. The import ratio of USA. .Spain should consider to get out of the eurozone, export (only countries Spain is doing business with are countries like South American) and make the Spanish people happy. Of course ING invested in Spain. I believe there should be somekind of rule that says.. let's give them a shot when it comes to autonomy. Our ING bank invested a lot in Spain, why do we have to be bankrupted?

    June 11, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Reply
  11. Roelof

    The wishful article 125. no country is responsible for Spain their economy. Spain is responsible for their own habitats. Maybe they refused to pay tax. That shouldn't be our problem.

    June 11, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Reply
  12. Roelof

    LISBON TREATY!! Communist treaty, we Dutch were always against. Like 70%. The article says that Spain can go FU when you conts don't have the money.

    June 11, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Reply
  13. moobie

    I also expect the German's chancellor to do better than any men, given she's a woman. Anyway, I would expect the same from any of my friends (girls)

    June 11, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Reply
  14. Steve

    Classic...when all else fails, blame men. Typical women speak.

    June 11, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Reply
    • S. L.

      Well men do run the financial world and are most commonly responsible for corrupt practices. They start wars and get medals for it, they own and manipulate the banking sector to suit their own greedy needs, they occupy eighty percent of corporate managerial positions which are inextricably connected to the banking sector. If men are not responsible for this mess, who is? There is barely a woman involved.

      June 12, 2012 at 2:12 am | Reply
  15. seawolf73

    Duch and germans should form a new barbarian's Reich. with Lagarde as their Queen. Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal could do a more "human" system rid of the Banking vultures

    June 11, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Reply
  16. Roelof

    Banks might think it's funny. It's not. You'll see when Europe is going down, USA and China is going down. Even with your habbits. You'll be killed before that. Why? Human got canine teeth, means human are predators. Also rabbits., depends on race and situation. A person that comes from a bad continent, settles down in a better one, is more likely to make babies than the way around. Future feelings. Our baby production is zero. African just have to call people racists and they create an environment of baby production. White are racists. We're called racists from the day we're born. There's nothing we can do about it.

    June 11, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Reply
  17. power4things

    With all the armchair financial genius' on this page I can't believe this Euro thing isn't solved yet ... of course most of it is jealousy and jingoism ... or just plain old blame. No solutions here.

    June 11, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Reply
    • Derekjs

      The solution has to be a longer term approach. It has taken probably 25 years or so to get in this mess with the banks hiding toxic debt over this time. Politicians now want instant solutions to please the electorate – wont work. Reschedule debts over the next 25 to 50 years and implement austerity measures gradually over this period. The Euro will survive (as the US Dollar does) once the EU recognise that they need to work like the US as a federation of states under a single government – without this Euro destined to fail.

      June 12, 2012 at 2:41 am | Reply
  18. costadosol

    here we go again never ends!,madam and others through their media hype, with this "give them Cakes" policies! .What they doing is not bailing out, it's not restructuring ...what it is Recycling Credit and for as long as we have these credit junkies we are never gonna kick start nothing .When are these politicians and credit junkies gonna realize that they have to cut bureaucracy, promote national production and reduce taxation to get real growth going??
    getting more fiscal constraints and high interest to countries is only going to make the bubble bigger!!!

    June 12, 2012 at 2:16 am | Reply
  19. Thanos

    Lagarde knows how to take orders from the likes of Soros. She praised the speculator for his insights...who profits at the expenses of nations. The markets run everything it seems and Lagarde is simply a servant of it. Not for long....not for long...

    June 12, 2012 at 3:14 am | Reply
  20. Antonio

    Perchè in Italia l' euro ha due valute. A operaii dipendenti, e pensionati, l'euro viene calcolato, 1936.27. E c'è un quarto di popolazione ha calcolato l'euro lire 1000. Si puo sapere l'euro quanto vale lire 1000, oppure 1936.27. Se la politica non riesce a risolvere questo problema noi finiamo come la crecia. perchè operai e pensionati hanno perso il cincuanta x100 di potere da'aquisto,e quuel quarto di popolazione ha guadagnato quel 50×100 ,che anno perso pensionati e operai dipendenti.

    June 12, 2012 at 6:14 am | Reply
    • Deepika

      How can we be "in a world market"when we reveice less than 82% of EU price and 93.5% of NZ price? Bigger question might be how can they afford to export to USA if they are paying that much more for product, and what WTO rules are they breaking? or are those rules only for the US to follow and nobody else? This whole thing just continues to amaze me .DWCovert

      July 9, 2012 at 1:41 am | Reply
  21. Spyros (Athens Greece)

    Well, most people are reacting to the current debt crisis as if there has never happened before. It's pathetic that most participants have such a short memory. Go back through the decades and you will find numerous incidents of indebted/ impoverished nations and their puppet patrons (local political/economic elit) who serve their 'masters.' Do we have any doubt that these creditors are vultures, predators and misery backers? Those who control the money printing machines are in control. They were, they are and they will always be. No change here. Only in good times for most people we forget the Peking order of control. Shame on us all.

    June 12, 2012 at 6:16 am | Reply
  22. Lauro Silva

    The truth is that all of the financial leaders are completely lost and hopelessly inefficient. taking care of the banks and not of the people..Unfortunately it´s too late to cry over spilled milk after so much irresponsibility, corruption,impunity with culprits still at large..

    June 12, 2012 at 9:40 am | Reply
  23. Francisco Gomes

    She sounds like confused ! Looks like she is not sure about what will happen next !

    June 12, 2012 at 9:54 am | Reply
  24. Leo

    euro must go...... that's the short version... any sustaining of a political currency will only cause a global showdown with the powers that be who will ease up the USD... and gold price will come to a standstill

    June 12, 2012 at 11:11 am | Reply
  25. Pat

    The euro isn't the rpoblem; the problem is incompetent & corrupt politicians indebting their countries in order to get re-elected. The EU needs strict rules & tougher ways to enforce them to prevent national politicians from sinking their countries in debt: that's what got some of these countries in the mess their in in the first place. The EU should be able to greenlight national budgets, and if the budgets aren't OK, should be able to force the national governments to make a new, balanced one. Long live the EU & the euro! I can't imagine going back to a time where you had to change your money every time you crossed a border or where you had to pay commisions to our "friends" the banks every time you used your credit card to pay for something in a different country. The euro makes inter-European commerce so much easier & cheaper. I love it and I'm sure millions if not most Europeans do to!

    June 12, 2012 at 11:40 am | Reply
  26. andreas metje

    meint frau lagarde wir deutsche glaubeni ihr etwas, denn sie sagt nur das was der amerikanische präsident will.
    sie will von der amerikanischen schuldenkrise ablencken, den wenn man 18 trillionen dollar schulden hat, so wie die usa, dann ist die europäische schuldenkrise nur ein witz.
    dies werden wir nach der us wahl sehen, dann gibt es ein sparprogramm wie es die welt noch nicht gesehen hat.
    die usa haben ihe racketen programm eingestellt. kein ersatz für die raumfähren, us truppen und standorte werden aufgelöst, amerika wird keine weltmacht mehr sein weil es zu überschuldet ist und kein geld mehr hat.
    nur das 1½ wird noch geld haben.

    June 12, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Reply
  27. gabriel roybal

    not sure i understand why 3 months?

    June 12, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Reply
  28. Sanoran Triamesh

    Lagarde is a 'pimp' of the Banks. The reason why she got the job is to try to channel as much tax-payer money as possible to the Bankers. She is doing her job to scare citizens into paying the Bankers for their gambling losses. WSJ, which is mostly sponsored by the Financial Industry finds Lagarde Erotic!!!! Look at the wsj article below.

    That says a lot. WSJ loves her the same reason WSJ loves Bernanke too, .... they are moles of the Banks in Government.

    June 12, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Reply
  29. Marco Hsiao

    [ Real history and justice, Europe must be punished ]

    God is angry, God decides to punish Europe. Gaddafi's grandchildren, age below 12, are killed by these immoral European countries. In reality the world history is distorted for too long.

    In Indian rising of 1857, Dirty queen opium Victoria (1837-1901) and immoral British murdered lots of free fighters, such as Lakshmibai, and millions of good people were exploited to die by famine in Indian Peninsula; Dirty queen Opium Victoria also authorized "British East India Company" to produce most opium in history.

    In 1860, Dirty queen opium Victoria and immoral Louis Napoleon (1808-1873) launched opium war, the immoral troops entered Beijing; destroyed greatest garden in history and robbed treasuries. Dearth penalty must the only sentence to opium Victoria and immoral Louis Napoleon.

    June 12, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Reply
  30. Marco Hsiao

    [ Europe salvation by justice caning ]

    25 million African black slaves were made by immoral European, 1/3 were tortured to die by European in Europe's ships. 6 million Jewish and Gypsies were slaughter by sub human German and other European, including 1 million children. Pardon me – these immoral European should be called as "sub human"; it is for the human right and human dignity, bad people should be blamed. Europe could be said as dirtiest continent on violating human right in world history.

    The evil kings and queens who authorized the black slave trade and evilest invasion – should be dug from tombs, then caning them to save Europe; otherwise God will be angry continually. Every suffering African or Asian country should get apology and compensation (US$ 20-130 trillion) from the immoral European countries. Every African American should get US$ 100,000 as compensation from immoral Europe; their ancestors deserve 20 times compensation.

    Now is the eve, God has made decision: after 2050 a justice power will dominate the world for next 1000 years, the world will have the last judgment.

    June 12, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Reply
  31. Ken Young

    Euro zone concept is against human nature.

    To wit: Why shall I work hard & watch my wallet when I know my rich Mom will bail me out every time I am in financial trouble? That is just human, don't try to deny it.

    Trying to keep all children under one roof only created more spoiled, lazy kids.
    Chinese parents tried that in 1800s by feeding their kids opium [supplied by British !] at home, look at what happened to that country during 1830–1949. Now EU is trying to do just that !!? Ha !

    June 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Reply
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