On Sunday, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, went from a $3,000 per night hotel suite to a holding cell in midtown Manhattan over the alleged sexual assault of a hotel maid. The French national was on his way to meet with German chancellor Angela Merkel over the Greek debt crisis when he was removed from his Air France flight at Kennedy International Airport and arrested. The I.M.F. has already named John Lipsky to replace Strauss-Kahn; Lipsky has been overseeing negotiations of the Greek debt crisis. Until this scandal, Strauss-Kahn was expected to challenge Nicolas Sarkozy for the French presidency.
What’s the Big Idea?
It is perhaps the worst of times for Strauss-Kahn to be removed as head of the I.M.F. The now ex-chief was credited by many for rehabilitating the Fund’s image after being criticized by many for its lending practices. At the moment, the I.M.F. is playing a crucial role in managing the Greek debt crisis—Strauss-Kahn was on his way to a European finance ministers’ meeting in Germany where he would argue against austerity measures as a fix to the crisis. Strauss-Kahn was expected to announce his candidacy for the French presidency this month, a proposition that now seems untenable, and leaves French socialists without a clear leader.