Global Studies Quarterly, 3(1), 2021
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Abstract International organizations make policy decisions that affect the lives of people around the world. We argue that these decisions depend, in part, on the political ideology of the organization's chief executive. In this study, we investigate the influence of the leader of one of the most powerful international organizations: the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). We find that when the Managing Director is politically left of center, the IMF requires less labor market liberalization from borrowing countries in exchange for a loan. We also find evidence suggesting that the Managing Director's influence on labor-related loan conditions is independent of the Fund's most powerful members, including the United States. While Managing Directors rarely engage in overtly political behavior, they appear to act as “partisan technocrats” whose ideology influences international financial rescues and specifically the conditions attached to countries’ loans, which shape the distributive consequences of IMF lending.