Getting ready to pick the next World Bank President

Robert Zoellick’s article in Foreign Affairs “Why We Still Need the World Bank” http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/137243/robert-b-zoellick/why-we-still-need-the-world-bank was intended to be a flattering account of the Bank’s achievements during his time as its president.  Correlation is not, of course, causality, but as the World Bank’s Board gets ready to select his successor from a shortlist of three nominees, it’s time to look more closely at what’s missing. Continue reading

The process, and what the World Bank’s Board needs to do first

Although the speculation has already started about possible candidates to replace Robert Zoellick, and he and his surrogates are already trying to reframe his 4 1/2 years at the Bank, it’s important to remember what the process is.

PIMCO’s Mohamed el-Irian, hardly a disinterested observer, rightly points out in a February 17 Washington Post op-ed that whoever is chosen will have more legitimacy if the Board undertakes appropriate due diligence and a transparent, maybe even public process.  Continue reading

FT and Bloomberg: Selection is “lacking in legitimacy” and a “stich-up”

Two of the heavyweights in economic journalism have written editorials criticising the convention that sees the US traditionally choosing the World Bank president. The Financial Times and Bloomberg are not commonly known for their strident calls for justice. If anything their stance illustrates quite how absurdly anachronistic the convention looks today.

Bloomberg says that:

That custom has outlived any semblance of propriety. The White House should think again … This cozy arrangement, always lacking in legitimacy, was once defensible as a practical matter. It’s telling that nobody any longer even attempts such a defense. The arrangement is rightly seen as an affront to Brazil, China, India and the other fast-growing developing economies. It’s also inimical to the very idea of international cooperation on terms of mutual respect — and not just for the countries excluded from any say in the matter. Continue reading

Candidates, nationalities and some misunderstandings

Timothy Geithner said yesterday that Washington would put forward a candidate “in the coming weeks”. But with Hillary Clinton seemingly ruling herself out of the race there are more questions than answers on who will be Obama’s candidate.

Larry Summers was together with Hillary Clinton the most mentioned contender, but selecting someone who proposed dumping toxic waste in poor countries does not seem to help the purpose of improving the Bank’s legitimacy in the developing world. Unless Obama wants to ignore this detail the two initial contenders for the Bank’s leadership would be ruled out even before the selection process starts. Continue reading

The selection process and the politics of adjectives

The coming weeks will see much media focus on possible candidates, from the toxic Larry Summers to the ever-present Trevor Manuel. But already comments from senior figures in governments are illustrating that it is the process of selection that really counts.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner said yesterday that:

It is very important that we continue to have strong, effective leadership of this important institution, and in the coming weeks, we plan to put forward a candidate with the experience and requisite qualities to take this institution forward

Choosing his words carefully he said that the US wanted the Bank board to follow an “open and expeditious” process. Note there was no mention of a “transparent”, “merit-based” or “fair” process. It’s in these moments that the choice of adjective becomes a political act, with serious implications. Continue reading

With the Eurozone in a mess, Obama has the political space for a “radical” stand

Robert Zoellick, the only neo-con who survived the Bush era because he left in time , has just announced that he will step down from the top job in the World Bank, and not look for a new term in 1818 H street in Washington.

This move, already in the air given the ambition of the democrats not to leave a Republican-appointee in place for a second term at the World Bank, renews again the well known saga about the appointment of next Bank president: again an American politician or banker? Or for the first time ever since Bretton Woods in 1944 will a non-American citizen be allowed to head the institution?

Despite the whole debate and new commitment to a procedure for a transparent and merit-based selection process to find the best candidate for the top job of the IMF, the Europeans gave a bad example in 2011 by forcing through Madame Lagarde at a time of profound crisis in “old Europe”. Hence the need for European governments to be sure that the IMF will intervene in case of a show down of the Eurozone. This is quite understandable for a bunch of countries who are not able even to decide among themselves about how to help each other out of the crisis. Continue reading

Campaigners demand fair selection process as Zoellick finally says he will step down

Increased rumours this week proved to be right as Zoellick just announced today that he will step down at the end of his first term as World Bank president, on 30 June. Reacting to the announcement, a global coalition of campaigners has issued an open letter to World Bank governors calling for an open and merit-based process to elect the next Bank president, and for developing countries to determine the selection: Continue reading

Poll: who should be the next World Bank president?

The US has monopolised the Bank presidency since 1944, but leadership selection at the International Financial Institutions is becoming increasingly contested. There have been repeated promises by the Bank to open up the process and select candidates based on merit, in a fair and transparent way. As developing countries become increasingly confident and assertive this could be the year that sees the emergence of a real challenge against the US hold over the position.

But who would the credible candidates be?  Below are nine heavy-weight possible candidates from developing countries. Who do you think would be the best for the job?

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

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