Promise-breaking at the World Bank, Part 1: Before

That 66th birthday month of his, March 2012, was auspicious for adding a little spice to his dreary life, but no, it just can’t last. Born in March 1946 alongside his evil twin, IMF, in Savannah Georgia, after conception in what must have been a rather sleazy New Hampshire hotel (the ‘Bretton Woods’) in mid-1944, the old geezer known as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or much better by his nickname World Bank (but let me just use WB), really ought to be considering retirement. Continue reading

“how did the United States wind up taking the helm of the World Bank, and not the I.M.F”

In an interesting article, Benn Steil, in the New York Times, traces the history of how a spy scandal led to the unwritten arrangement between the US and European powers to divide the leadership of the IMF and World Bank between them.

He concludes his historical account of how this came about saying “Instead of treating the World Bank presidency as a sacred American birthright, we should remember that it was never more than a consolation prize for an administration trying to dodge a spy scandal.”


Latin American CSOs hold WB EDs to account for their vote

Below is a guest post by María José Romero of the Latin American network of NGOs Latindadd, with its secretariat in Lima, Peru.

In a letter sent on April 5 to World Bank Executive Directors representing Latin American countries, Latin American NGOs Fundar, DAR and Latindadd asked about the criteria for the selection of the new President of the institution. José Antonio Ocampo, the Colombian candidate to lead the World Bank has already met 18 of the 25 Bank’s Executive Directors and on Tuesday 10 April (today) the Board of Executive Directors as a whole will interview him.

In an ideal world each and every Latin American country should support Ocampo’s candidacy. As Kevin Gallagher says, “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 President Barack Obama’s nominee, Jim Yong Kim.” Continue reading

Ngozi in the FT: “My vision for a World Bank that serves everyone”

In an Op-Ed article today in the Financial Times, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala says ” My own approach to thinking about development has been influenced by my childhood experiences. I grew up in a village in Nigeria where I knew poverty first-hand. I lived through the Nigerian civil war in my formative years, where I observed how violence could set back years of economic development. My thinking has also been shaped by the past 30 years, working in almost every region of the world on thorny issues of development. It has certainly been informed by four years as finance and foreign minister in one of the most challenging but also exciting countries in the world – Nigeria.


Bank reform – a thoughtful list of key issues

My former colleagues at the Bretton Woods Project have just published their bi-monthly Bretton Woods Update with a cover article summarising some of the key issues that whoever wins the Presidency will have to tackle.  Worth reading in full, but here are some snippets, the first on the rise of emerging markets:

One of the most pressing issues is how to work effectively with large emerging market countries. Continue reading

“the World Bank is not a health charity”

A very convincing argument in support of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as President of the World Bank, at least me-thinks, by Maha Atal in Forbes Magazine;

“By far the most important reason to appoint Okonjo-Iweala is that she has experience on both sides of the table in the international lending negotiations that are the bread and butter of the Bank’s work. Continue reading

A fairer assessment by the Wall Street Journal

Unlike the usual tirades against anything pro-development and the blind support for Paul Dundes Wolfowitz and the dismantling of the World Bank, typically offered by the editorials of the Wall Street Journal, as in this one few days ago’ “Jim Kim to the World Bank: The Dartmouth president is better than the bank deserves.”

Sudeep Reddy in today’s edition offers a more reasonable assessment of Dr. Kim titled  ” U.S.’s World Bank Pick Draws Criticism”

“A better World Bank pick”

The conservative Washington Times Newspaper manages to be tough on both the World Bank and Jim Kim, while endorsing Ngozi, all at the same time. It puts its argument this way;  “The World Bank will be interviewing candidates for its next president in a process meant to be open, transparent and merit-based. President Obama’s nominee, Jim Yong Kim, president of Dartmouth College, has the inside track, though developing-country aspirants, such as Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, are better qualified. There are also many Americans who would make a better choice.” Adding “In an ideal world, there would be no World Bank. When selecting the institution’s next leader, America – and the world – have a lot more talent to offer than Dr. Kim.”