(Bloomberg News) The International Monetary Fund turned to John Lipsky when it was ordered toe develop an early-warning system to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial meltdown. Now, the IMF is calling on him to guide it through its own crisis.
Lipsky, 64, was named acting managing director yesterday after the fund's chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was charged with attempted rape and a criminal sex act on a New York hotel maid. Lipsky, who has been first deputy managing director since 2006, takes temporary leadership of the Washington-based IMF as it tries to stem the European sovereign-debt crisis and deal with Greece's request for a bigger financial lifeline.
Lipsky, who once served as chief economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Salomon Brothers Inc. in New York and represented the IMF in Chile, is described by colleagues as a steady hand who can give the fund some stability in the aftermath of Strauss-Kahn's arrest. His promotion came three days after the IMF said he would be leaving when his term as the No. 2 official ends on Aug. 31. That could result in an "awkward period," said Eswar Prasad, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
"He can carry the ball effectively for the next few months, but I wouldn't count on anything more from him," said Prasad, who worked with Lipsky as division chief of the IMF's financial studies division. Given Lipsky's plans to leave, he's unlikely to push any "major initiatives," Prasad said.
IMF spokesman William Murray said Lipsky wouldn't comment on his new appointment.
Held Without Bail
Strauss-Kahn was ordered held without bail by a New York judge today. He didn't enter a plea. Strauss-Kahn has denied the charges and will plead not guilty, his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, has said.
European finance ministers will tackle Greece's financing needs at meetings in Brussels today. Also on the agenda are the approval of 78 billion euros ($110 billion) in aid for Portugal and the nomination of Bank of Italy Governor Mario Draghi to be the next president of the European Central Bank.
In late 2008, the Group of 20 finance ministers asked the IMF to develop a so-called Early Warning Exercise. The effort "assesses low-probability but high-impact risks to the global economy and identifies policies to mitigate them," the IMF said in a fact sheet last month.
Lipsky was a leader of the effort, emphasizing the importance of specifically identifying potential hazards.