How powerful is the IMF

When a country gets into trouble, it's there: the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He helps with loans, leads governments and otherwise acts as an institutionalized reminder for economic issues that are fundamental to the state.

The IMF is a kind of financial fire brigade that extinguishes fires and otherwise strives for fire protection. Sometimes he appears in association with the World Bank - and both serve as enemy when critics of globalization want to get rid of frustration.

The indictment against Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) throws a completely different kind of spotlight on the IMF, which has repeatedly attracted attention through internal affairs.

Skirt? Better not!

The New York Times now headlined coolly: "Men on the prowl, women on guard". The IMF would have its own rules, it would be the world of alpha animals among economists.

The proportion of women in management is a good 20 percent, much lower than at the World Bank (32 percent) or the United Nations (26 percent). The working days are long, and employees are often crammed together for weeks, for example on missions abroad. In such a climate, relationships would flourish quickly, but women also tried to avoid too much attention. Skirts are then quickly taboo.

The IMF is an international organization that has its own rules and can therefore sometimes ignore the strict US laws. Until recently, for example, the internal statutes contained a passage that experts and former IMF officials believe may have encouraged managers to get too close to women who worked for them.

Basically, it says there that confidential relationships with subordinates do not in themselves constitute sexual harassment. However, these relationships are unlikely to have any impact on work. Career versus sex - that should be ruled out as far as possible at the IMF.

This passage is part of an eleven-page document that deals exclusively with harassment in the workplace. Not only does the sexual component play a role, it is also about bullying.

It explains in detail what is meant by sexual harassment, especially since - as the IMF notes - there is a particularly high risk that employees from different nations will perceive behavior differently.

Obviously, the biggest problem is that the existing rules are not being taken very seriously. The New York Times quotes a former IMF employee as saying that this organization is like the "Pirates of the Caribbean": regulations are interpreted more as guidelines. This increases the willingness of employees to take risks.

Nagy affair

Time and again, according to the newspaper, it happened that complaints from employees about harassment were not followed up by the IMF. However, other employees also reported that the IMF would offer favorable working conditions.

The rules for dealing with one another are said to have been a response to Piroska Nagy's affair with Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2008. Strauss-Kahn had apologized publicly at the time, and an external commission had come to the conclusion that DSK had neither favored nor bullied Nagy.