Strauss-Kahn’s Choice

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF's managing director, should state unequivocally whether he intends to seek the French presidency in 2012. If he does, the need to avoid conflicts of interest dictates that he should resign from his current job immediately.

CHICAGO – When Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister, was appointed Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund in 2007, many developing countries objected – not to him, but to the tradition that gave the IMF’s top job to a European, with the Americans installing one of their own at the World Bank.

This antiquated international spoils system is a leftover of the post-World War II order, in which the victorious powers divided the leading positions in the world economic institutions among themselves. That arrangement made some sense when the United States represented 35% of the world economy and Western Europe another 26%, but today, the balance of economic power has shifted. The US accounts for only 20% of the world economy, and Western Europe for 19%.

But there was an even more compelling reason – though not obvious at the time – why the IMF director appointed in 2007 should not have come from Europe: the need to avoid conflicts of interest.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.


Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.