16 May 2011

My (sort of) Connection to the IMF Chief

MY FIRST JOB out of college was an internship arranged for me by a family friend at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC. The year was 1993 and I was placed in the Russia Division where I served as a staff assistant, which basically meant I did a lot of photocopying, distributing of material, and a bit of research for the 20 or so economists who were working on Russia policy at the time. It was a pretty exciting place to be when you consider what was happening in Russia at the time. I have forgotten the name of my boss, but she was the a very nice woman who was the administrative assistant for the division. After a few weeks I remember she assisgned me to a small group of the staff economists and it was my job to make sure they had all the basic support they needed. The two economists I worked most closely with were Michael Maresse, an former professor from Northwestern University and Piroska Nagy, a highly regarded economist from Hungary.

What does this have to do with anything?

Well, the head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Khan (or, DSK, as he is know in France) was arrested over the weekend on sexual assault charges stemming from an incident that allegedly took place in a hotel room in New York. In reading about the story, I came across an intersting bit of information: this is not the first time Strauss-Khan has been involved in a sexual scandal (shocker!!). In fact, he has had several issues in the past that one might consider 'inappropriate'. One of them included an extra-marrital affair with a subordinate in 2008 -- for which he was roundly criticized. But of interest to me is that the affair was with...Piroska Nagy! The story can be found here and here.

This connection with the current head of the IMF is a stretch, I know, but if we're playing the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, I can now get to DSK in under three.

Of course, there is a French angle to this story that goes beyond the fact that Strauss-Khan is French. He was (and I assume 'was' is the correct tense to use here, but you never know) considered a favorite to win the nomination of the Socialist Party and take on President Sarkozy in next year's elections. In nearly all recent polls he was running ahead of Sarkozy -- sometimes confortably ahead. Now the left will have to scramble to find another candidate to take on Sarko.

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