Marina Adshade is an economist at Dalhousie University. She writes regularly on the economics of sex and love on her blog Dollars and Sex
The first thing I noticed as I piled onto the Paris Metro last Monday morning, along with thousands of other parents taking their reluctant children for their first day of school, was the picture of a smiling and waving Anne Sinclair holding the hand of her husband Dominique Strauss-Kahn plastered on the front of every newspaper.
DSK has arrived at his home in Paris looking every bit the part of returning hero greeted by cheering fans and well wishers. Not everyone agrees, but while the current consensus may be that the French are saying "Non!" to the possibility of a DSK revival, if that is what he is looking for he couldn't ask for a better economic climate.
Last week, Europeans got the bad economic news; the economy shrank by 0.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2011. The poorly performing German economy has helped contribute to the slide with economic growth down from 1.5 per cent in the first quarter to only 0.1 per cent.
But France's stagnating economy is playing its part, with the economy contracting by 0.9 per cent after an encouraging expansion of 1 per cent in the first quarter. Unemployment is showing a meagre improvement (down by 0.1 percentage points to 9.1 per cent) but is still almost 2 percentage points higher that its pre-recession level; more than 2.8 million people are looking for work.
The government here may be dismissing fears that the economy is returning to recession, but at the same time has proposed spending cuts and tax increases of €11-billion ($16-billion) to help pay for new aid for Greece. With France in the position of helping to bail out weaker euro zone countries, it is not in a good position to stimulate its own economy and, in fact, it is being pushed into taking measures that will further exacerbate its own economic condition.
It seems to me that right now a hero is exactly what France needs.
If economic times were good there is little doubt that DSK would now find himself reconciled to a quiet life. Times are not good though, and there are those who will argue that France needs leaders who can make tough economic decisions, regardless of their personal behaviour. I am not saying that he is the only man for the job, in fact I doubt that is true. There is a perception, though, that he is, and that might just be enough for the men who line up every morning in front of temporary employment offices; you could hardly blame them if they believe that forgiving this leader for his offenses is a small price to pay to have food on their tables.
"Bonne chance!" shouted one well-wisher when the former IMF leader arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport Sunday morning. Well, good luck indeed for Dominique Strauss-Kahn that economy is failing to recover; it makes it difficult for France to dispense with this powerful man.