David Lipton is leaving his position as first deputy managing director of the IMF at the end of the month, paving the way for the Trump administration to choose a successor for the second-most powerful position at the multilateral lender.Mr Lipton’s departure after a nine-year tenure was one of two high-profile changes in IMF senior management announced on Friday by Kristalina Georgieva, the Bulgarian economist who became managing director of the IMF late last year, as she moves to put her stamp on the Washington-based institution. Carla Grasso, the chief administrative officer and deputy managing director, is also leaving at the end of February, the IMF said. The fund said the departures of Mr Lipton and Ms Grasso were happening “in the context of changes [Ms Georgieva] will be making to the leadership team”. Ms Georgieva added on Twitter: “I am deeply grateful to David Lipton, the IMF’s longest-serving first deputy managing director, for his invaluable service to our members and the global economy through his outstanding experience and expertise.” The second-highest ranking IMF official has traditionally been an American national, as Europeans have always held the top job of the Washington-based economic institution. The vacancy left by Mr Lipton’s departure will offer the Trump administration another chance to reshape the sort of multilateral economic institutions of which it has long been sceptical, after tapping David Malpass to lead the World Bank last year.Mr Lipton, who served as a top US international economic official in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, said he believed in the fund’s work and had helped to smooth the transition to Ms Georgieva from Christine Lagarde, the former IMF chief who is now European Central Bank president.
“The fund is an institution providing invaluable service to its members and the global economy writ large, and I am pleased to have served it for so long,” he said. Since his appointment to the IMF in 2011, Mr Lipton played a crucial role in shepherding some of the fund’s most significant and controversial rescue packages, including bailouts of struggling eurozone countries as well as Ukraine and later Argentina. The IMF said Ms Georgieva told the board that she wanted to move quickly to find replacements for Mr Lipton and Ms Grasso. The official said that Ms Georgieva wanted to realign the senior management team and give more responsibilityto department heads, but the decision was not motivated by any specific disagreements. “It was a business decision, not a personal decision”, the official said. The Trump administration, and particularly the US Treasury department led by Steven Mnuchin, will now face a key decision on who to put forth to replace Mr Lipton. Although the sitting US administration typically makes the selection, Ms Georgieva would make the formal appointment and submit it to the IMF board for approval. The Treasury department declined to respond to a request for comment on Mr Lipton’s departure.