Dominique Gaston André Strauss-Kahn (French pronunciation: [dɔminik stʁos kan]; born 25 April 1949), often referred to in the media, and by himself, as DSK, is a French economist, lawyer, politician, and member of the French Socialist Party (PS). Strauss-Kahn became the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 28 September 2007, with the backing of his country’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and served in that role until his resignation on 18 May 2011 following allegations that he had sexually assaulted a hotel employee. Other allegations followed.
He was a professor of economics at Sciences Po and was Minister of Economy and Finance from 1997 to 1999 as part of Lionel Jospin’s “Plural Left” government. He sought the nomination in the primaries to the Socialist presidential candidacy for the 2007 election, but he was defeated by Ségolène Royal in November 2006.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn was born in the wealthy Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine. He is the son of lawyer Gilbert Strauss-Kahn. Strauss-Kahn’s father was born to an Alsatian Jewish father and a Catholic mother from Lorraine; Strauss-Kahn’s mother is from a Sephardic Jewish family in Tunisia.
He and his parents settled in Agadir, Morocco, in 1951, but after the 1960 earthquake moved to Monaco, where his father had a legal practice. While the family was living in Monaco, Strauss-Kahn went to school at the Lycee Albert 1er. The family later[when?] returned to Paris, where he attended high school at the Lycée Carnot. He graduated from HEC Paris in 1971 and from Sciences Po and ISUP in 1972. He sat and failed the entrance examination for École nationale d’administration, but obtained a degree in public law, as well as a PhD and an agrégation (1977) in economics at the Université Paris X (Nanterre).
Career outside politics
From 1977 to 1981, Strauss-Kahn lectured at the University of Nancy-II, first as an assistant, and later as assistant professor, before taking a position at the University of Nanterre. In 1982, he was appointed to the Plan Commission as head of the finance department, and later as Deputy Commissioner, a position he held until his election to the National Assembly in 1986. After his ousting in the 1993 parliamentary elections, Strauss-Kahn founded DSK Consultants, a corporate law consulting firm. Upon resigning from the Jospin government, he resumed his academic duties, teaching economics at Sciences Po from 2000 until his appointment to the IMF in 2007.
Strauss-Kahn was first an activist member of the Union of Communist Students, before joining in the 1970s the Centre d’études, de recherches et d’éducation socialiste (Center on Socialist Education Studies and Research, CERES) led by Jean-Pierre Chevènement, future presidential candidate for the 2002 election. There, he befriended the future Prime Minister of France Lionel Jospin (PS).
After the election of President François Mitterrand (PS) in 1981, he decided to stay out of government. He got involved in the Socialist Party (PS), which was led by Lionel Jospin, and founded Socialisme et judaïsme (“Socialism and Judaism“). The next year, he was appointed to the Commissariat au plan (Planning Commission) as commissaire-adjoint.
In 1986 he was elected Member of Parliament for the first time in the Haute-Savoie department, and in 1988 in the Val-d’Oise department. He became chairman of the National Assembly Committee on Finances, famously exchanging heated words with the Finance Minister Pierre Bérégovoy (PS).
Minister for Industry (1991–93)
In 1991, he was nominated by Mitterrand to be Junior Minister for Industry and Foreign Trade in Édith Cresson’s social-democratic government. He kept his position in Pierre Bérégovoy’s government until the 1993 general elections.
After the electoral defeat of 1993, Strauss-Kahn was appointed by former Prime Minister Michel Rocard chairman of the groupe des experts du PS (“Group of Experts of the Socialist Party”), created by Claude Allègre. The same year, he founded the law firm “DSK Consultants” and worked as a business lawyer.
In 1994, Raymond Lévy, who was director of Renault, invited him to join the Cercle de l’Industrie, a French industry lobby in Brussels, where he met the billionaire businessman Vincent Bolloré and top manager Louis Schweitzer; Strauss-Kahn served as secretary-general and later as vice-president. This lobbyist activity earned him criticism from the alter-globalization left.
In June 1995, he was elected mayor of Sarcelles and married Anne Sinclair, a famous television journalist working for the private channel TF1 and in charge of a political show, Sept sur Sept. She ceased presenting this show after Strauss-Kahn’s nomination as Minister of Economics and Finance in 1997 to avoid conflict of interest, while Strauss-Kahn himself would cede his place as mayor to François Pupponi in order to avoid double responsibilities.
Minister for Economics, Finances and Industry (1997–99) 
In 1997, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin (PS) appointed Strauss-Kahn as Minister for Economics, Finance and Industry, making him one of the most influential ministers in his Plural Left government.
Although it was in theory contrary to the Socialist Party’s electoral program, he implemented a wide privatization program, which included among others the IPO of France Télécom; he also implemented some deregulation policies in the research and development sector. The French economy achieved an excellent performance during his term of office: the GDP increased, whereas unemployment and public debt decreased (creation of 300,000 jobs in 1998, a level not seen since 1969). This helped to strengthen his popularity and managed to win the support of former supporters of Lionel Jospin and Michel Rocard, making him the leader of the reform-oriented group Socialisme et démocratie. Strauss-Kahn has been originally a proponent of the working time reduction to 35 hours, a measure implemented by Martine Aubry, Minister for Social Policies.
In 1998 he became one of the leaders of the Socialist Party for the regional elections in the Ile-de-France region (Paris and suburbs), which were won by the PS. But as Strauss-Kahn refused to exchange his ministry for the executive leadership of the Ile-de-France, Jean-Paul Huchon became the president of the regional council.
In 1999, he was accused of corruption in two financial scandals related to Elf Aquitaine and the MNEF, a student mutual health insurance, and decided to resign from his ministerial office to fight these charges, in agreement with the “Balladur jurisprudence”. He was replaced by Christian Sautter. He was acquitted in November 2001, and was reelected in a by-election in the Val-d’Oise.
As Minister of Economics and Finance, Strauss-Kahn succeeded in decreasing VAT to 5.5% for renovation works in construction, thus supporting this activity. At the same time, he decreased the budget deficit, which was more than 3% of GDP under Alain Juppé’s center-right government (1995–97). He thus prepared France’s entrance in the euro zone. Strauss-Kahn also repealed the Thomas Act on hedge funds and launched the Conseil d’orientation des retraites (Orientation Council on Pensions).
Strauss-Kahn succeeded in combining followers of Jospin and Rocard in the same political movement, Socialisme et démocratie, but failed to make it more than an informal network.
After Jacques Chirac’s success in the 2002 presidential election and the following Union for a Popular Movement (UMP)’s majority in Parliament, Strauss-Kahn was reelected Member of Parliament on 16 June 2002, in the 8th circonscription of the Val-d’Oise. He first declined in taking part in the new leadership of the PS, then in the opposition, in the 2003 congress of the party. But he joined the party’s leadership again at the end of 2004, and was given overall responsibility for drawing up the Socialist programme for the 2007 presidential election, along with Martine Aubry and Jack Lang. During the summer meeting of 2005, he announced that he would be a candidate for the primary elections of the Socialist Party for the presidential election.
At the same time, Strauss-Kahn co-founded the think tank À gauche en Europe (To the Left in Europe) along with Michel Rocard. He presided jointly with Jean-Christophe Cambadélis over the Socialisme et démocratie current in the PS.
Strauss-Kahn was one of the first French politicians to enter the blogosphere; his blog became one of the most visited, along with Juppé’s, during his stay in Quebec.
Strauss-Kahn then campaigned for the “Yes” at the French European Constitution referendum, 2005. More than 54% of the French citizens refused it, damaging Strauss-Kahn’s position inside the PS, while left-wing Laurent Fabius, who had campaigned for a “No” vote, was reinforced.
Strauss-Kahn sought the nomination for the Socialist candidacy in the 2007 presidential election. His challengers were former prime minister Laurent Fabius and Ségolène Royal, the president of the Poitou-Charentes region. Strauss-Kahn finished second, behind Royal. On 13 April 2007, Strauss-Kahn called for an “anti-Sarkozy front” between the two rounds of the forthcoming presidential election. Following Ségolène Royal’s defeat, Strauss-Kahn criticized the PS’s strategy and its chairman, François Hollande. Along with Fabius, he then resigned from the party’s national directorate in June 2007. Strauss-Kahn had been widely expected to seek the Socialist nomination for President of France in 2012, and was considered an early favorite.
IMF Managing Director (2007–11)
On 10 July 2007, Strauss-Kahn became the consensus European nominee to be the head of the IMF, with the personal support of President Nicolas Sarkozy (member of the right UMP party). Former Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka withdrew his candidacy as it was opposed by the majority of European countries. Some critics alleged that Sarkozy proposed Strauss-Kahn as managing director of the IMF to deprive the Socialist Party of one of its more popular figures.
Strauss-Kahn became the front runner in the race to become Managing Director of the IMF, with the support of the 27-nation European Union, the United States, China and most of Africa. On 28 September 2007, the International Monetary Fund’s 24 executive directors selected him as the new managing director. Strauss-Kahn replaced Spain’s Rodrigo Rato. On 30 September 2007, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was formally named as the new head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The only other nominee was the Czech Josef Tošovský, a late candidate proposed by Russia. Strauss-Kahn said: “I am determined to pursue without delay the reforms needed for the IMF to make financial stability serve the international community, while fostering growth and employment”. Under Strauss-Kahn the IMF’s pursuit of financial stability has included calls for a possible replacement of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. An IMF report from January 2011 called for a stronger role for special drawing rights (SDR) in order to stabilize the global financial system. According to the report, an expanded role for SDRs could help to stabilize the international monetary system. Furthermore, for most countries (except for those using the US dollar as their currency) there would be several advantages in switching the pricing of certain assets, such as oil and gold, from dollars to SDRs. For some commentators that amounts to a call for a “new world currency that would challenge the dominance of the dollar”.
In 2008, the IMF Board appointed an independent investigator following allegations that Strauss-Kahn had had an affair with a subordinate, Piroska Nagy, who was married at the time to economist Mario Blejer. Nagy alleged that Strauss-Kahn had used his position to coerce her into the affair. She was later made redundant and Strauss-Kahn assisted her in getting a new job. The IMF board issued the findings of the investigation; while noting that the affair was “regrettable and reflected a serious error of judgment on the part of the managing director”, the board cleared Strauss-Kahn of harassment, favoritism or abuse of power, and indicated that he would remain in his post. Strauss-Kahn issued a public apology for the affair. Le Journal du Dimanche dubbed him “le grand séducteur” (the Great Seducer).
Strauss-Kahn made comments that could be perceived as critical of global financial actors, in an interview for a documentary about the late-2000s financial crisis, Inside Job (2010). He said he had attended a dinner organised by former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in which several CEOs of ‘the biggest banks in the U.S’ had admitted they (or perhaps bankers in general) were ‘too greedy’ and bore part of the responsibility for the crisis. They said the government “‘should regulate more, because we are too greedy, we can’t avoid it.’” Strauss-Kahn said he warned the officials of a number of departments of the U.S. government of an impending crisis. He also said: “At the end of the day, the poorest – as always – pay the most.”
Referring to his diplomatic efforts to secure IMF aid for Europe following the 2010 sovereign debt crisis, economist Simon Johnson described Strauss-Kahn as “Metternich with a BlackBerry”. In May 2011, referring to the IMF’s change of heart in favour of progressive rather than neoliberal values, Joseph Stiglitz wrote that Strauss-Kahn had proved himself to be a “sagacious leader” of the institution. Following Strauss-Kahn’s arrest for sexual assault in New York, economist Eswar Prasad said that should he be forced to step down, the IMF “will find it hard to find as effective and skilful an advocate for keeping the institution central to the global monetary system”.
John Lipsky, the IMF’s second-in-command, was named acting Managing Director on 15 May 2011.
Strauss-Kahn resigned from the IMF on 18 May 2011, after being arrested by NY police on 15 May over allegations of sexual assault. The charges were later dropped, although the woman involved filed a civil action against Strauss-Kahn.
In February 2012, Strauss-Kahn was detained for questioning by French police as part of an investigation into a suspected prostitution ring.
Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, 2007–2011 (resignation – sexual assault case)
- Governmental functions
- Minister of Industry and Foreign trade, 1991–1993.
- Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry, 1997–1999 (resignation).
- Electoral mandates
- Member of the National Assembly of France for Val d’Oise (8th constituency) : 1988–1991 (he became minister in 1991) / Reelected in 1997, but he became minister / 2001–2007 (resigned on becoming Managing Director of the IMF in 2007). Elected in 1988, reelected in 1997, 2001, 2002, 2007.
- Member of the National Assembly of France for Savoie : 1986-1988.
- Regional Council
- Regional councillor of Ile-de-France, 1998–2001 (resignation).
- Municipal Council
- Mayor of Sarcelles, 1995–1997 (resignation).
- Deputy-mayor of Sarcelles, 1997–2007 (resigned on becoming Managing Director of the IMF in 2007). Reelected in 2001.
- Municipal councillor of Sarcelles, 1989–2007 (resigned on becoming Managing Director of the IMF in 2007). Reelected in 1995, 2001.
- Agglomeration community Council
- President of the Agglomeration community of Val de France, 2002–2007 (resigned on becoming Managing Director of the IMF in 2007).
- Member of the Agglomeration community of Val de France, 2002–2007 (resigned on becoming Managing Director of the IMF in 2007).
Strauss-Kahn has four daughters, one by his second wife, Brigitte Guillemette, whom he married in 1984. He married his third wife, French journalist Anne Sinclair, in 1991. Sinclair is the heiress to part of the fortune of her maternal grandfather, Paul Rosenberg. The couple had a house in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., two apartments in Paris, and a riad in Marrakesh, Morocco. He is an accomplished chess player, and claims that he enjoys practising either chess or math problems for hours every day. Strauss-Kahn is also known to have attended sex parties where prostitutes were paid to indulge in sexual activities, although Strauss-Kahn claims to have not known of this.
On 31 August 2012, Anne Sinclair agreed in a newspaper interview that she and Strauss-Kahn have separated. When asked how she was doing “since your separation”, she responded, “Very well, thank you….I am in good shape; I took some vacation; I work hard again.”
The couple Strauss-Kahn divorced in March 2013.
New York v. Strauss-Kahn and later allegations
On 14 May 2011, a 32-year-old maid, Nafissatou Diallo, at the Sofitel New York Hotel alleged that Strauss-Kahn had sexually assaulted her after she entered his suite.
Strauss-Kahn was formally indicted on 18 May and granted US$1 million bail, plus a US$5 million bond, the following day. He was ordered to remain confined to a New York apartment under guard. A semen sample was found on the maid’s shirt, and on May 24 it was reported that DNA tests showed a match to a DNA sample submitted by Strauss-Kahn. He was arraigned on June 6, 2011, and pled not guilty. On June 30, 2011, the New York Times reported that the case was on the “verge of collapse” because of problems with the credibility of the alleged victim, who had, according to sources within the NYPD, repeatedly lied to the police since making her first statement. According to prosecutors, the accuser admitted that she lied to a grand jury about the events surrounding the alleged attack. Diallo claims that the translator on June 28, 2011, misunderstood her words. Strauss-Kahn was released from house arrest on 1 July.
After completing a lengthy investigation, prosecutors filed a motion to drop all charges against Strauss-Kahn, stating that they were not convinced of his culpability beyond a reasonable doubt due to serious issues in the complainant’s credibility and inconclusive physical evidence, and therefore could not ask a jury to believe in it. The motion was granted by Judge Obus in a hearing on August 23, 2011. In a TV interview in September, Strauss-Kahn admitted that his sexual encounter with the maid was “a moral fault” and described it as “inappropriate” but that it “did not involve violence, constraint or aggression”.
In the aftermath of the New York arrest other allegations were made. During the case, the journalist Tristane Banon came forward with a claim that Strauss-Kahn had attempted to rape her. In September Banon stated that if there is no criminal prosecution, she would bring a civil case against Strauss-Kahn. According to a report in L’Express Strauss-Kahn admits to attempting to kiss Banon. In October the French public prosecutors dropped the investigation. They stated that there was a lack of evidence regarding the allegation of attempted rape. In March 2012, Strauss-Kahn came under investigation in France over his alleged involvement in a prostitution ring. The allegations relate to his supposed involvement in hiring prostitutes for sex parties at hotels in Lille, Paris and Washington. On 2 October 2012, a French prosecutor announced that they will not continue the investigation of Strauss-Kahn’s connection to a possible gang rape in Washington, D.C..
- Inflation et partage des surplus; le cas des ménages. Cujas, 1975. (with André Babeau and André Masson).
- Économie de la famille et accumulation patrimoniale. Cujas. 1977.
- La Richesse des Français- Epargne, Plus-value/Héritage. (with André Babeau). Paris: PUF, 1977. Collection « L’économiste » ed. Pierre Tabatoni. Enquête sur la fortune des Français.
- Pierre Bérégovoy: une volonté de réforme au service de l’économie 1984–1993. Cheff, 2000. (with Christian Sautter)
- La Flamme et la Cendre, Grasset, 2002, (ISBN 2-01-279122-0)
- Lettre ouverte aux enfants d’Europe, Grasset, 2004, (ISBN 2-246-68251-7)
- Pour l’égalité réelle: Eléments pour un réformisme radical, Note de la Fondation Jean Jaurès, 2004
- DVD pour le Oui à la constitution, 2005
- 365 jours, journal contre le renoncement, Grasset, 2006