who will be next World Bank President What will they do


"I'm just focusing on my salad" The Martha Stewart moments continue as Paul Wolfowitz and his entourage pretend that this will all blow over, or the Black Hawks will come to the rescue, or that the VPs and the staff will just steal off into the night. The attempts at normalcy are becoming quite amusing, if there weren't so much at stake.

On Monday afternoon, VPs (yes, and even the ones from IFC) were called together to discuss the long-term strategy of the Bank. Few considered this worthwhile, since PW isn't going to be around much longer, and even if he were, the Bank's external environment might be a lot different depending on when his fingernails give out (no IDA, no partnerships, EC sets up own funding mechanism, ...)

The discussion turned out to be a Powerpoint version of the tired outline of Chief Economist Francois Bourguigon's "economists' view of the 2030s". There has been so little progress by the team that the early March Word draft was basically copied and pasted verbatim into Powerpoint, the room darkened, and the snoozing began. Not even worth meeting, everyone agreed, except to see Paul Wolfowitz's attempts, none too convincing, to pretend that everything is OK. No one who was there could remember anything memorable, or anything from him that sounded remotely like leadership.

Meanwhile, the budget officers in operations (six regions, four networks) received a telephone call Wednesday afternoon from the President's office. (Apparently while he was being snubbed in Brussels by Gordon Brown Wolfowitz had time, smuggled out of the EC and back to the airport under a blanket in the back of an SUV, he had time to give some orders.) The ten staff, their VPs' principal advisors on budget and planning, were summoned to a meeting next Wednesday, at 4 pm, with Wolfowitz. No agenda was given, so they called the Director of Corporate Resouce Management (budget, in a less pretentious organization) and the Vice President, Corporate Strategy, Resource Management and Risk, to find out what was up. Neither gentleman's office had been told of the event. When pressed, the word came back from the 12th floor that "Mr. Wolfowitz is interested in your impressions of how the budget process works."

Well, after two years of Robin Cleveland effectively ordering cuts, leading to so much uncertainty that a budget under-run is virtually certain again this year, it's nice he's finally interested in finding out something so basic. It's sort of hard to plan for next year, if you don't yet have a notional budget envelope, two months before the fiscal year begins.

No word yet on who the President will be next week, and no word either on whether the invitees think it's worth blocking their calendars to attend a meeting that is without precedent in the Bank.

Wonder if Wolfowitz's videographer will be there, or if he will pose for stills that will command something on eBay at some point?

Deep Insider ~ May 03, 2007

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