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?

9 thoughts on “A question of merit

  1. I think of three candidates! the right choice should indeed from nigeria. This, by the simple reason! Poverty will not always be the revenge of poverty, meaning if from poor countries who became president of world bank, then he would know exactly what is given to poor countries. So Obama will probably agree with me because he’s never lived in a poor country rich.

  2. Depends whether you think insider economists and former finance ministers are what the world needs now at the World Bank.

  3. Trying to turn the world bank into a health related development agency is plain stupid. Health issues are extremely minor in the world bank portafolio and logically so. Any lending or policy advice on health by the bank is usually related to health financing.

    Watch and see how the the executive directors of the bank will run circles around Kim because of his severe lack of finance and real development expertise. If I were one of them or one of the senior managers in the bank I will vote for him, simply because he would not know what hit him when it comes to running such a global organization. My bet is on Kim leaving the bank in a short time, probably as disgraced as Wolfowitz

    • It would be stupid. Ant evidence Jim Kim thinks that’s what needs to happen?

      I didn’t think so.

      white House vetting being what it is, there are no skeletons, unpaid taxes, or girlfriends to be rewarded.

  4. There’s no doubt that his experiences have not really prepared him for the position. Personally, I would have vastly preferred to see Jose Antonio Ocampo, who not only has experience as a finance minister, but has also worked as a minister on other important issues that the Bank needs to pay more attention to (specifically agriculture), and he also has experience working in multilateral institutions (granted, ECLA is a vastly different animal from the Bank). I prefer him to Ngozi because I think Ocampo’s synthesis of liberalism and structuralism is just right, from a theoretical perspective. Listening to Ngozi’s TED talks, she sounds like she would have been more of the same ‘liberalize, privatize, deregulate’ formula that has characterized Bank policymaking for the last 30 years (same reason why I really didn’t want Summers to get the job).

    I’m not as upset about picking somebody from a public health background as a lot of other people seem to be, because, contra Lant Pritchett, I don’t think health care delivery is mere “charity” or “palliative economics.” There have been lots of studies suggesting that disease inhibits TFP growth, particularly in agriculture. While empirical studies have not been kind to the ‘poverty trap’ hypothesis, I think there is strong reason to believe that health issues make structural transformation much more difficult. Considering that public health efforts tend to be led by private donors and national development banks, the World Bank could play an important coordinating role on this front. However, that requires a leader with a strong political acumen, not merely expertise in the ‘science’ of health care delivery, and nothing in Kim’s background suggests he has the political chops for the job. And even though I’m more generous about the role of public health initiatives in economic development, his lack of expertise in virtually any other aspect of development is troubling.

    This pick is certainly no substitute for an open and meritocratic selection process. Obama’s decision not to go with somebody from Wall Street or from his cabinet was a good decision in my eyes, but this choice is hardly better, and it will only temporarily forestall the inevitable: the US losing its special privilege at the Bank.

  5. Dear Bank Insider,

    The Bank’s track record on economic and policy advise is very poor and stand’s exposed. Doubt anyone is any longer interested in the Bank’s prognostications on macro or micro or financial policy.

    Focus on health and other social sectors may save the Bank from irrelevance and extinction and perhaps also ensure that the monies provided by tax payers in developed and developing economies is finally used more responsibly.

  6. more to the point, would the same Mr. Kim get the job if he still has a Korean passport ?

    As for for expertise and how to change the world bank, Obama should have picked a climate change expert, not an HIV aids one.

  7. Ocampo has by far more policy making, technical and diplomatic experience and skills than the other two candidates. As many observers and serious economists have commented, if the decision is based on true merits and capabilities due the demands and challenges the post represents, Jose Antonio Ocampo must be the next president of the World Bank.

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