NEW YORK (Reuters) - John Lipsky, the No. 2 official at the International Monetary Fund, steps in as acting managing director of the global lender in the absence of the its chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who faces sexual assault charges.
The towering, bushy-mustached Lipsky’s current official title is first deputy managing director, a position he has held since September 2006.
Reserved and thoughtful in manner, Lipsky combines a professional background on Wall Street as a working economist with long-standing interest in public service that makes him an able communicator of the fund’s far-flung activities.
Here are some facts about Lipsky’s background and plans.
— A PhD economist, Lipsky came to the IMF in his current position in 2006 during a period of relative global stability when some were questioning whether the IMF was still needed. He joined from JPMorgan Investment Bank, where he had been a vice chairman and also had served as the bank’s chief economist. He said earlier this month he planned to give up his IMF post when his term ends in August.
— Lipsky is given high marks for his service and for heightening the IMF’s profile, particularly during the 2007-2009 financial crisis and more recently for helping craft IMF aid packages for Greece, Ireland and Portugal to help them deal with their budget woes. “He’s been a substantial cheerleader for that and an advocate for a greater role for the Fund,” said Edwin Truman, a former Treasury official now at the Peterson Institute think tank.
— Strauss-Kahn had asked Lipsky to serve as special adviser to the IMF, even after his current post expires, through the Group of 20 summit of rich and emerging-market nations in November. Strauss-Kahn singled out Lipsky’s abilities as “an instigator of debate, an influential proponent of multilateralism and deeper financial surveillance and an outstanding communicator.”
— Lipsky is deeply steeped in IMF culture and in Wall Street banking, making him uniquely qualified not only for the job he has held for the past five years but also as a steadying influence for the vast IMF empire now reeling in the wake of the charges against its chief. The attitude the IMF projects as an institution is haughty and high-handed. while Lipsky is quiet-spoken and buttoned-down, likely to be seen inside and outside as the steady hand needed when not just employees but nations are looking to the IMF for help and leadership.
— Lipsky spent a decade at the IMF before he joined Salomon Brothers in 1984. During that period, he helped manage the IMF’s exchange rate surveillance procedure and analyzed developments in international capital market, some of the same efforts the Fund remains involved in today. He was chief economist at Salomon Brothers, Inc. from 1992 until 1997.
Reporting by Glenn Somerville; Editing by Todd Eastham