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Dominique Strauss-Kahn, IMF Managing Director

Friday 14 January 2011 - by Will Henley


The Frenchman was very much the man of the moment in 2010, boosting his institution's power base and coming to the rescue of European nations. The International Monetary Fund managing director reaches 8th in the GFS Power 50.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn's stock has skyrocketed in 2010 as the IMF has been called upon time and again to come to the rescue of beleaguered nations.

This year was exceptional, however, for only the second time in more than thirty years did the Washington-based body have to come to the help of not one, but two, Western European nations.

These days, the institution does not merely restructure the finances of troubled developing countries, it also imposes strict adjustments on stricken First World economies.

Many had hoped that the IMF's bailout of Iceland in 2008 was a one off. But by offering aid in Greece and Ireland, it proved not only that it was a major player in Europe, but that the EU was ill-prepared to fully shoulder the burden of failure in its own back yard.

Toward the tail end of 2010 concerns have mounted that Portugal, and even Spain, could be forced to seek a bailout. As a result, policymakers and journalists have been hanging on the every word and nuance coming from Strauss-Kahn.


The year however also marked some seismic changes at the IMF itself as it moved to shift power away from richer nations to emerging economies. Agreement at the G20 in November not only led to a resources boost, but led to a doubling of member quotas, meaning Brazil, China, India, and Russia will rank among its top 10 shareholders.

The economist, who trained as a lawyer and was Finance Minister in France in the late 1990s, hailed the move at the time as a "huge change", adding that it "exceed[ed] the expectation" of commitments made at previous G20 summits. "We achieved today the most important reform in the governance of the institution since its creation," he said.

Strauss-Kahn has not minced his words when it comes to financial regulation. Slapping down countries over the pace of reform efforts, he has warned that "very little has been done" to improve supervision of financial services since the global crisis.

The managing director has stressed that potential loopholes in the world's supervisory architecture could provide the seeds of a future crisis, but accepts that it is for the Financial Stability Board to push for such improvements.


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