Mexican Central Bank Chief Wants to Lead IMF

Mexican central bank chief and IMF candidate Agustin Carstens
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Mexican central bank chief and IMF candidate Agustin Carstens

When it comes to who will replace Dominique Strauss Kahnas head of the IMF, you've heard a lot about French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde.

But someone wlse is running an active campaign for the job as well: Agustin Carstens, the Ben Bernanke of Mexico. He meets with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner today to campaign for the US vote.

Although greatly admired for his economic credentials, few believe he has a chance of getting the job. Carstens spoke exclusively with CNBC and explained why he's fighting to what many think is losing battle.

Carstens told me "It's a matter of principle. I think that we emerging markets for many years have been claiming that we should have a chance, we should have more representation in the management of the fund."

He added,"If we don't present candidates and we don't participate in the process and we don't force it to be more transparent and open we will never get there."

It is a 65-year tradition that that IMF be led by a European and the World Bank by an American. Those are outdated rules from a long-gone era, says Carstens. And he laughs outloud at the suggestion that a European should lead during the time of a European crisis.

"That's a terrible argument, with all due respect. For a multi-national institution like the fund, that's not the right argument. In Latin America, we had often times crisis and the fund delivered. And the fund was under the management of a European. So if the fund under an European could help Latin America, why can't a Latin American not help Europe solve their problems?"

In fact, he suggests having a European would be an actual mistake. "I think it will be good for Europe to have a fresh pair of eyes looking to their crisis, like me. And also to bring the experts in crisis management. I mean, we have expertise in crisis management. We've had many, yes. But we also have solved them successfully."

For many Mexicans, the situation in Europe reminds them of their country's trouble in the '80s.

"During my career when I started as a public official in Mexico the country ran out of reserves. We had to devalue, we had to impose capital controls because of the money wealth leaving the country. We had the inflation rate to where 100 percent. Now we have a debt to GDP ratio of 35 percent that no European country have," Carstens says.

Watch Michelle Caruso-Cabrera's interview with Carstens today on "Power Lunch," 1-2pm ET on CNBC.