Strauss-Kahn set for France return

Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is set to return to France within a few days, Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry said Tuesday.

Strauss-Kahn set for France return
WTO (File)

Asked on Canal+ television when Strauss-Kahn would return home after sexual assault charges against him were dropped in the United States, she replied: “He will come back in the days to come.”  

Aubry has announced her candidacy to lead the Socialist party in next year’s election against President Nicolas Sarkozy.  

Strauss-Kahn was once considered the Socialist’s best hope to unseat Sarkozy but few expect him to run following the allegations of sexual misconduct.  

“Dominique Strauss-Kahn has regained his freedom, to act, to move and to speak,” Aubry said.  

“I have always said the same thing: first, the presumption of innocence, second, I think the same thing as many women about the attitude of Dominique Strauss-Kahn with respect to women,” she added.  

“I was the first to say on the first day that we must at the same time defend the presumption of innocence, the victim, and her word”, Aubry said regarding the immediate public vilification of Strauss-Kahn after his May in arrest in New York on charges of sexually assaulting a hotel housekeeper.  

A Manhattan court dismissed the charges on August 23 after prosecutors expressed doubts about the housekeeper’s credibility.  

“As for the rest, that is a matter about which Dominique Strauss-Kahn must speak. The French people are not waiting for me to tell them what happened in that room. I do not know,” the Socialist leader said.  

In the interview, Aubry insisted she wanted to focus on issues that directly affect the lives of French people, and not get mired in discussions about Strauss-Kahn’s personal life.  

“The country is doing badly,” she added, arguing it did little good to dwell on the scandal.  

“He will be here in a few days (…) we will ask him these questions,” she said.  

In a poll conducted before the charges against him were dropped, a majority of French voters said they wanted the former IMF chief to stay out of politics.  

The CSA survey, commissioned by broadcasters BFM and RMC and freesheet 20 Minutes found that 53 percent of people felt Strauss-Kahn “should not participate in the political debate in the coming months.”  

In seven weeks, supporters of Strauss-Kahn’s Socialist Party will vote in an open primary to choose a candidate to face the centre-right Sarkozy.  

Strauss-Kahn, 62, resigned as the International Monetary Fund’s managing director after he was arrested and charged in May with sexual assault and attempt to rape.  

Last week, he walked free when a judge in New York dismissed charges against him. Prosecutors said they could not pursue the case because the accuser’s lies had made it impossible to prove her accusations beyond a reasonable doubt.  

However the former IMF boss still faces civil charges in New York filed by the housekeeper Nafissatou Diallo and French writer Tristane Banon has since accused the former Socialist party stalwart of sexually assaulting her in a Paris flat in 2003.

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World unprepared for next financial crisis: ex-IMF chief Strauss-Kahn

The world is less well equipped to manage a major financial crisis today than it was a decade ago, according to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a former chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

World unprepared for next financial crisis: ex-IMF chief Strauss-Kahn
Former French Economy Minister and former managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Dominique Strauss-Kahn , poses during a photo session in Paris on Thursday. Photo: JOEL SAGET / AFP
In an interview with AFP, the now-disgraced Strauss-Kahn — who ran the fund at the height of the 2008 financial meltdown — also said rising populism across the world is a direct result of the crisis. 
Strauss-Kahn resigned as head of the IMF in 2011 after being accused of attempted rape in New York, although the charges were later dropped. He settled a subsequent civil suit, reportedly with more than $1.5 million.
Q: When did you become aware that a big crisis was brewing?
A: When I joined the IMF on Nov 1, 2007, it became clear quite quickly that things were not going well. That is why in January 2008, in Davos, I made a statement that made a bit of noise, asking for a global stimulus package worth two percent of each country's GDP. In April 2008, during the IMF's spring meetings, we released the figure of $1,000 billion that banks needed for their recapitalisation.
Q: Did the Bush administration grasp the danger of Lehman Brothers going bankrupt?
A: No, and that is why Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson decided not to save Lehman, because he wanted to make an example of it in the name of moral hazard. Like everybody else, he considerably underestimated the consequences. Allowing Lehman to go under was a serious mistake. Especially because only a week later they were forced to save the insurer AIG, which was much bigger.
Q: Ten years on, are we better equipped to deal with a crisis of such a magnitude?
A: No. We have made some progress, particularly in the area of banks' capital adequacy ratios. But that is not nearly enough. Imagine Deutsche Bank suddenly finding itself in difficulty. The eight percent of capital it has at its disposal are not going to be enough to solve the problem. The truth is that we are less well prepared now. Regulations are insufficient.
Q: How so?
A: After 2012-2013 we stopped talking about the need to regulate the economy, for example concerning the size of banks, or concerning rating agencies. We backtracked, which is why I am pessimistic about our preparedness. We have a non-thinking attitude towards globalisation and that does not yield positive results.
Q: Do we still have international coordination?
A: Coordination is mostly gone. Nobody plays that role anymore. Not the IMF and not the EU, and the United States president's policies are not helping. As a result, the mechanism that was created at the G20, which was very helpful because it involved emerging countries, has fallen apart. Ten years ago, governments accepted leaving that role to the IMF. I'm not sure it is able to play it today, but the future will tell.
Q: Do you believe that Donald Trump's election is a consequence of the crisis?
A: I believe so. I'm not saying that there was a single reason for Trump's election, but today's political situation is not unconnected to the crisis we lived through, both in the US with Trump and in Europe.
Q: Connected how?
A: One of the consequences of the crisis has been completely underestimated, in my opinion: the populism that is appearing everywhere is the direct outcome of the crisis and of the way that it was handled after 2011/2012, by favouring solutions that were going to increase inequalities.
Quantitative easing (by which central banks inject liquidity into the banking system) was useful and welcome. But it is a policy that is basically designed to bail out the financial system, and therefore serves the richest people on the planet.
When there's a fire, firemen intervene and there is water everywhere. But then you need to mop up, which we didn't do. And because this water flowed into the pockets of some, and not of everyone, there was a surge in inequality.
By AFP's Antonio Rodriguez