Kahn he Remain?

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director at the IMF, was considered by many to succeed French President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s presidential elections. Kahn enjoyed popular support at home as well as his seeming aura of invincibility as a sagacious leader of the IMF.

Though Kahn helped the global economy stay afloat during his tenure at the IMF, his own reputation is now reeling from the accusations of assault that have been leveled against him. With the 2011 G8/G20 Summit just weeks ahead, the French are finding themselves in a terrible public relations strait.

Few doubt that Kahn did a superb role as Managing Director of the Fund—even the Nobel-Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, long known for his scathing criticism of the “Washington Consensus”—the now-notorious term coined by John Williamson in describing the Fund’s oft-ill-boding structural reform policies, has heaped praise for Strauss-Kahn’s recognition of the link between inequality and instability. Thanks to Strauss-Kahn, Stiglitz notes, the IMF was finally making headway—albeit slowly—towards reform for the better.

But whatever credibility and prestige Strauss-Kahn had amalgamated over the years has cracked due to the latest allegations of his misconduct. It doesn’t help for Strauss-Kahn that this is not the first time his ethical decision-making has been put under question.

While untimely for France, this may be a window of opportunity for under-represented nations at the IMF to rally for more “chairs and shares,” a term used to describe their egregious lack of representation at the Fund. The IMF has long maintained its custom of appointing a European as head of the Fund, and the United States remains the sole member-state who wields de facto veto power. Although Europe has ceded two seats of the Fund’s Executive Board to developing countries, real reform in governance has still not been made.

Ironically, perhaps Strauss-Kahn’s greatest reform lay in the public’s scrutiny of his alleged misconduct. Consciously or unconsciously, Strauss-Kahn has certainly triggered a serious look at who really deserves to be the chief of the IMF.

12 Responses to “Kahn he Remain?”

  1. Harrison E. says:

    What do you think of the claim by several American and French strategists that DSK’s current situation was planned from the beginning? Supposedly, to prevent DSK from becoming a strong candidate for the French Presidency, Sarkozy had him placed into the IMF and sent to America because the chances of him screwing up and getting arrested/put on trial were exponentially higher. His adulterous tendencies were largely ignored in France, but not in puritanical America.

  2. Ryo says:

    Harrison>

    I think you raise some interesting points but it seems like you lump-summed three assertions so let me try to partition them and respond to them one at a time.

    I believe you raised the following points:
    1) The possibility that DSK may have been set up
    2) The possibility that DSK was sent to the IMF to be set up
    3) The cultural differences between France and America

    To respond to them one at a time,

    1) I agree with you that there is the possibility that influential political opponents of DSK (or rather a person or group of people who may have harbored animosities against DSK) may have carefully created a plot to smear DSK and tarnish his career. Personally, I respect DSK for his achievements as the Managing Director of the IMF during his tenure, so I hope that evidence will exonerate him from these claims. If it turns out that DSK was set up, that would make me a happy camper as I would love to be relieved by the fact that a figure I look up to does not have a propensity to assault women.

    2) This, I believe, is far-fetched. While I agree with you that DSK was most likely sent to the IMF in part to get him out of France’s political landscape, at the same time I don’t believe this incident was plotted in advance to that far an extent. Rather, DSK’s appointment most surely must have stemmed from other reasons as well, including his heavy background in economics.

    3) The Europeans are definitely more lenient in allowing cavorting politicians, although I’m sure that the position can be taken that Americans are over-sensitive to peccadillo.

    Well, I hope this clarifies my position on the questions you raised, and I look forward to your reply should you have any other things you wish to deliberate upon.

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