Will Dominique Strauss-Kahn bid farewell to the IMF?
IN THE world of global finance and economics it’s tempting to nominate Dominique Strauss-Khan, the 61-year-old managing director of the International Monetary Fund and former French finance minister, as the man of the moment. Actually, rather a long moment: DSK (as his compatriots invariably call him) has been in the limelight ever since the global financial crisis began. Whether boosting the IMF’s reserves or coordinating rescue packages for Greece and Ireland, DSK has impressed with his intellect and energy—and, of course, his multilingual charm (he is fluent in French, German and English and once told Cassandra that in his youth he could speak Bahasa Indonesia).But a big decision awaits DSK in 2011: should he stay at the IMF, gathering the plaudits and indulging his passion as a professional economist, or should he resign in order to make a bid for the French presidency as the candidate of the Socialist Party? The presidential election is not until 2012, but the Socialist Party will select its nominee from a primary contest in the autumn of 2011—and the candidates must enter the race by June. The opinion polls regularly show that DSK would defeat President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012. Indeed, Mr Sarkozy no doubt recognised this threat way back in 2007, when in one of his early acts as president he nominated DSK for the IMF in faraway Washington, DC. The problem, however, is that DSK’s popularity with ordinary French voters is not matched by his popularity with Socialist Party stalwarts. For them, he is simply too “liberal”, ie too fond of the free market. He made a bid for the party’s nomination for the 2007 presidential election, and came second. Will he want to fall short again?For what it’s worth, Cassandra’s bet is that he will take the risk. After all, being boss of the IMF may be important, but being president of the French Republic is more important still. And if he fails, there will surely be other jobs in the offing.