Sizing up the candidates

Now that we know the three candidates, a lot of ink will be spilled weighing them up against each other. I asked an expert with more than 30 years of experience on the field of development  finance to give an opinion. This expert – who has experience in the public, private and third sector – asked to remain anonymous because over the years the person had worked with several of the candidates (and expects to work with them all in the future). The assessment:

“We have 3 candidates. There seems to be a growing consensus that the winner needs to (a) be from a developing country rather than a US candidate; (b) be anti the Washington consensus agenda (privatisation and liberalisation) and pro-equitable and bottom up development; and (c) have experience of managing a large organisation.

So how do the candidates measure up to these criteria ?

Okonjo-Iweala: Continue reading

US World Bank nominee under fire over book

From Robin Harding of the FT 

Jim Yong Kim, the US nominee to head the World Bank, is coming under fire over a book he co-authored that criticises “neoliberalism” and “corporate-led economic growth”, arguing that in many cases they had made the middle classes and the poor in developing countries worse off.

Some economists are arguing thatDying for Growth, jointly edited by Dr Kim and published in 2000, puts too great a focus on health policy over broader economic growth.

“Dr Kim would be the first World Bank president ever who seems to be anti-growth,” said William Easterly, professor of economics at New York University. “Even the severest of World Bank critics like me think that economic growth is what we want.”

Continue to the full article 

The World Bank needs reform: democracy, accountability, climate change, and more

We closed the poll on which issues at the Bank need the most reform. You can see it at the bottom of the page. Its worth noting that there was a fairly even spread of issues that people thought needed reform. But the top issues were: democracy and accountability at the Bank; the Bank’s involvement in climate finance; improvement of public health systems; duty to respect and protect human rights; and the development impact of extractive industries. Lets review some of these, with some conjecture on the candidate’s positions:

First democracy and accountability – the first half of which is not strictly in the power of the Bank President. That said, the President can use his bully pulpit to argue for and demand changes in the alignment of power among shareholders. For all his many faults, this is something Strauss-Kahn did during his tenure at the IMF. While Zoellick’s parting words tried to put the multilateral into the Bank, he did precious little during his term to up the democracy quotient. The second half of that reform demand – accountability – is another matter. The president could set down the law about making sure there is greater participation by affected communities in Bank projects, and could also strengthen the independent accountability mechanisms at the Bank. By a rough read, this is not something that seems to be in the experience of US-nominee Jim Yong Kim, while Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as a Bank insider for decades is not seen as friendly to this agenda, while Jose Antonio Ocampo, as someone with a strong UN background, presumably takes inclusiveness more seriously. Continue reading

Can Jim Yong Kim Reinvent the World Bank?

Jim Yong Kim – a public health expert, president of Dartmouth College
and astute rapper – is the US government’s candidate for the presidency
of the World Bank. As Dani Rodrik, a development expert at Harvard
University, summed it up this morning, “it’s nice to see that Obama can
still surprise us.” Will the new candidate, who was not on anybody’s
shortlist for the position, be able to reinvent the World Bank?

The current process, in which the US and European Continue reading

A transparent, merit-based process: key steps

Now there’s a choice of candidates, for the first time it’s possible to say we may have the basis for a merit-based process for the selection of the World Bank President. Whether that’s what we get is, however, far less likely. If the Board is serious about making the process truly transparent and merit-based, here are the bare minimum things that should happen:

  1. Public interviews. It will simply not be credible if the Board selects a candidate behind closed doors with no one else able to see how the candidates stood up to questioning.
  2. Manifestos for candidates. Every candidate should be required to set out what he or she think the main challenges facing the Bank are and how they would deal with them as President.
  3. Public debates. Candidates should submit themselves for questioning to a variety of forums, including public debates.
  4. Transparent voting. All countries should vote individually, not through their constituencies, and should announce who they are voting for and why.

Of course, none of this would prevent the backroom deals that the US will use to ensure its candidate gets in, but at least everyone would be able to judge who the best candidate really is, and learn a lot more about what they stand for. None of these are difficult to organise, and all of them take place routinely at national level for senior public servants.  Why not for the World Bank?

Two questions on interviewing the candidates

I am wondering if visitors to this site have any thoughts on what the candidates should be asked during the interviews?  and how should the bank report on these interviews and how the candidates performed?

I, for one, would like to see these interviews made public via YouTube or something similar, in keeping with what the bank says its new transparency and openness policies, but I know I am dreaming here.

Its a question of what passport do you have

I think this year is quite a significant year for international diplomacy and global development. I say that If only because its the first time ever we have a woman, and an African, to ever be nominated to head any major international institution; the position of President of the World Bank Group.  True, the usual international hypocrisy will most likely not pick her for the position despite her impeccable credentials and because she does not have the “right passport” , never the less, I think its worth taking a closer look at this woman and her background:

A question of merit

The question that keeps on nagging at me since yesterday is:

Objectively speaking, If Obama did not pick Jim Yong Kim, would anyone in the World think he should be the President of the World Bank?

Sachs, Ocampo, Ngozi , and even Larry Summers, would have been, and in fact were recommended and proposed by many others, but Kim?  May be for the WHO or the Aids Fund, but I doubt for the World Bank ! What do you think?

Ocampo is in – what’s he got to offer?

There’s been plenty of discussion on this blog and elsewhere about Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the surprise US pick, Jim Yong Kim has provoked a flurry of interest, not least in his dancing prowess, but former Colombian finance Minister, Jose Antonio Ocampo seems to have sneaked through under the radar.  So I thought we should see why his supporters are backing him. Here’s the most detailed campaign pitch, from Boston University Professor Kevin Gallagher, writing in the Financial Times:

If the decision is finally based on merit, as it should be, Ocampo will win: he is far and away better than any on the list of credible names, including Continue reading