IMF's Lagarde on biggest threat to capitalism

The head of the International Monetary Fund said she is well aware of the criticisms of capitalism. However, her biggest concern about the viability of the system has nothing to do with economic issues, but climate change.

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“We will not be talking about that [capitalism’s problems] in 20 years’ time when the planet is completely gone,” argued Christine Lagarde while speaking at the Milken Conference with Gerry Baker, host of FOX Business'  “WSJ at Large.”  “So I think the environment is far more important than any of that.”

The IMF Managing Director pointed to several factors that are leading people to question the viability of capitalism, which she believes must change to survive.

“I don’t think that it can continue in a sustainable way with the level of inequality that we have around the world,” she said. 

“And if those issues of inequality are not addressed, at multiple levels--both in opportunity in terms of focus on the excluded, in terms of people to have their roots and their culture secured and preserved, to feel respected and included, for women to be part of the game at all levels of societies, for investment,  public investment in particular but private investment as well, in health and education going forward-- then the system is going to be under threat on a continuous basis.”

Largarde indicated that while she’s pleased that many people are raising concerns about capitalism today-- including notable capitalists such as billionaire investor Ray Dalio and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon -- actions are much more important than words.

“It’s one thing to flag it and just say, well, this is a part of us and this is a problem and we have to own it,” she argues.  “Second thing is what do we do about it, and how do we address the issue of inequality and inclusion.”

And Lagarde doesn’t believe the rise of populism and nationalism around the world will win the day.

“Globalism is not going to go away,” she says. 


Asked by Baker if she plans to run for a third term leading the IMF when her current term ends in 2021, Lagarde coyly dodged the question, comparing herself to the uncertainty surrounding Britain’s plan to leave the European Union.

“I’m looking at the options -- maybe -- just like the Brits, keep the options open,” she laughed.