Transatlantic differences Sunday 29th May 2011

The Economist of May 19th 2011 under the heading “Decoding DSK – What his fall says about transatlantic differences in attitudes to sex, power and the law” has an interesting commentary on US and European attitudes to the Strauss-Kahn affair. How much privacy should public figures enjoy? What are the possible consequences of a culture of silence? Will other misdeeds such as corruption, misuse of public assets and outright theft be hidden?

One fact is beyond doubt. In America a lowly African immigrant hotel chamber maid obtained a swift response from the police to her complaint of sexual assault. Her alleged assailant’s innocence or guilt will be determined by the court. But the authorities did not refrain from arresting the head of the IMF, nor from demanding that he be kept in jail on remand. Could we have expected this in Great Britain or in Continental Europe? The full article may be found on

Hot on the heels of DSK comes the revelation in the NY Times on 29th May that Board members at the IMF  are not subject to the ethics officer’s oversight. There is one set of ethics guidelines for the rank-and-file staff and another
for the elite executive directors who oversee the organization.

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