Christine Lagarde’s speech in Tokyo this week reinforces her formidable reputation for fluency. Fluency in law, finance, languages and politics. She’s no slouch when it comes to public speaking either.
Beginning her speech she used a very neat reference to the 60th anniversary of Japan’s membership of the IMF before drawing on the position 60 years later. It’s a favourite technique…and it worked.
This section was marred only by:
Through our journey together…
Journey? This speech has to be more important than an economics self-help group.
Her speech had good structure. There were three main points that she referred to throughout and summed up in her conclusion. Faultless.
We heard the occasional metaphor:
Let me begin with the issue of primary importance: the global economy’s ongoing effort to break free from the shackles of the financial crisis.
It was refreshing for a finance speaker to use a metaphor beyond storm and tempest to describe the global economy.
Her speech attempted alliteration. Curiosity wonders how that might have sounded in Japanese, but it worked in English:
Even when faced with challenges at home, Japan has taken the global view, the noble view.
Short sentences are a favourite in Ms Lagarde’s speeches:
For make no mistake: this is a global crisis.
Policy coordination in practice, if you will.
Quotes featured strongly in her speech. There was a Japanese quote and even one from Greece:
As Aristotle put it: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Today, more than ever, the world needs a vision of ‘the whole’.
There might have been room for some Greek tragi-comedy or even siren voices. But the Head of the IMF is too serious a speaker for that.
Her speech included an example of the “this, not that” technique. It’s a firm favourite of politicians everywhere:
As well as restoring the health of sovereigns, we also need to restore the health of the financial sector: back to supporting, not destabilizing the economy; back to function, not dysfunction; back to service, not just profit.
Other speakers who discuss the global economy are prone to talk about the arcane detail. Not Ms Lagarde:
I will not go into the details here, but the IMF has laid out what we think needs to be done: better regulation, stronger supervision, and proper incentives for the private sector.
Her speech proved well-structured and well-written. it contained enough to be serious and not too much to be tedious. That’s a difficult balance for an IMF speaker.