who will be next World Bank President What will they do


World Bank Country Directors Weigh in on Wolfowitz. Now that the ad hoc committee has reported, most (but not all) of the Bank's Country Directors have asked the Board to get on with it. The following letter was sent today by 37 Country Directors to the Dean of the World Bank board and the World Bank president. more...

Voice of Reason ~ May 15, 2007

Former Indian official spells it out. A good piece on the BBC World Service just now features comments from their economics correspondent and from a former senior Indian official. Andrew Walker, the correspondent, seems unsure how this will play out on the Bank's board but took time to remind listeners that the process is deeply political. more...

Alex Wilks ~ May 10, 2007

Potential successors lining up. Although various journalists and commentators are tipping long-shots such Malloch Brown and Clinton (Hilary that is) a smaller list of genuine potential candidates seems to be emerging. more...

Alex Wilks ~ May 09, 2007 ~ Comments (7)

(Update 2). While Wolfowitz, Folsom and Cleveland hunkered down an eerie calm fell over the Bank on Tuesday. The Board and the Governors were reading the ad hoc committee's report (300 pages, if you believe the New York Times, 600 with transcripts, according to Paul Wolfowitz's newly subdued spokesman, Bob Bennett). Staff went about their work, meetings took place, partnerships were discussed and rumours were traded. People laughed about the only resignation announced on Reuters just as it was being handed over to Kevin's boss. more...

Deep Insider ~ May 09, 2007

The weekend cometh If he's not gone by Monday it will be death by a thousand leaks, which have now reached Iguassu-like proportions, there are so many flowing together and crashing to the turbulent water below.

It turned out that the rumor about Suzanne Folsom's attempts to get IT staff to read email had no one to confirm it. Bank IT staff were quick to say they don't do that and wouldn't unless it was properly authorized. Of course not. The flurry may have something to do with Suzanne's fears of unauthorized leaks from INT itself, so if anyone has any insights...

The ad hoc committee is keeping mum about the progress of its drafting to send something for the full Board to read and digest. more...

Deep Insider ~ April 28, 2007

Why didn't we think of it? Irish bookmakers are making a fortune getting people to bet on who will be the new pope. Would it have worked for the World Bank process? Maybe. But perhaps cardinals are less likely to do insider betting than White House staffers.

Alex Wilks ~ April 13, 2005

Europeans urged South to oppose Wolfowitz "Observer," the daily Financial Times column of wry observations and intriguing gossip, reports that "European finance ministries," frustrated by their heads of government conceding on the Wolfowitz nomination with so little fuss, approached their counterparts in the Global South to urge they spearhead the opposition. But "the developing country representatives ... refused to do the dirty work on behalf of their European colleagues."

Soren Ambrose ~ April 04, 2005

Board says process must be improved In his coverage (sub. possibly required) of the World Bank board meeting in Friday's FT, Andrew Balls -- alone, I think, among those reporting on it -- says that whilst approving Wolfowitz, board members "spoke of the need for a better selection procedure for the future -- including the consideration of an array of candidates, regardless of their passports." more...

Soren Ambrose ~ April 03, 2005

Motivations & Silver Linings Robert Hunter Wade of the London School of Economics (LSE) analyzes in The Guardian the motivations governments had to approve Wolfowitz's nomination -- what deals they made. Wade also says that Wolfowitz was chosen for two reasons: to get someone who would support U.S. foreign policy objectives, especially in Iraq, and a sense of panic as the end of Wolfensohn's term neared and they couldn't find a credible candidate. Both quite plausible, but what his sources are for claiming this as knowledge, rather than speculation, is unclear. more...

Soren Ambrose ~ April 02, 2005

Activists Stage One-Horse Race at World Bank Washington-based activists staged a "one-horse race" outside the World Bank at 10 am on Thursday, just as the Executive Directors were taking their seats, holding their noses, and preparing to consent to Wolfowitz's nomination. Our race reflected the absence of democracy in the process -- only one horse ran -- and he won!

We're mentioned in several press articles, but here you can see the press release we issued at the time of the action, and of course there are photos and more photos.

Soren Ambrose ~ March 31, 2005

Horse-Trading Continues The Financial Times has a front-page (at least in the U.S.) article today confirming the reports that the EU countries want a European put in a top position at the Bank in exchange for supporting Wolfowitz. As the FT notes, this could mean the awkward downgrading of the current #2, Shengman Zhang, of China. The UK Treasury is quoted as saying that it is "sceptical" of any deal made by the US and EU that leaves out developing countries. But French and German officials seem insistent. more...

Soren Ambrose ~ March 28, 2005

The Horse-Trading Emerges from the Shadows. Two articles in Sunday newspapers open up a little more dicussion on what the White House is offering to its allies in exchange for their support of Wolfowitz's nomination. An interview with Wolfowitz in the Washington Post seems to confirm the news first broken by Alex on this page -- that the European ministers will demand that a new #2 position at the Bank be created for them to fill. And a piece in The Guardian (U.K.) revives reports that the U.S. has promised to back Pascal Lamy for the top post at the WTO so long as France supports Wolfowitz.

Soren Ambrose ~ March 27, 2005

Alex sums it up. Our very own Alex Wilks has published a comprehensive and very useful summary of the process and politics of selecting a World Bank President in the 21st century at opendemocracy.net. Includes analysis of the Wolfowitz nomination. more...

Soren Ambrose ~ March 25, 2005

Scoop: Europeans demand number 2 position. I was informed this evening that European governments are trying to negotiate to get a European named as a senior Managing Director at the Bank. A reliable government source who has just attended the European Council discussions here in Brussels said that Europeans are demanding a senior representative "as part of Wolfowitz's team" if the latter is made World Bank president. more...

Alex Wilks ~ March 23, 2005

FT: strong comments. Following its strong editorial yesterday the Financial Times has an article and interview on Wolfowitz. Yesterday it said Wolfowitz at the World Bank would be like having the "fox in charge of the chicken coop" (surely they meant wolf). more...

Alex Wilks ~ March 19, 2005

World Bank statement. "The Executive Directors have agreed to conduct informal meetings over the coming days with the United States' nominee as part of the consultative process on this subject," the World Bank states.

"Thereafter, the Executive Directors will meet in formal session to select the President, at which time an official announcement of the outcome will be made."

David Steven ~ March 18, 2005

More clarity on decision timings. We have just learned that the Wolfowitz nomination for World Bank president will be discussed by European heads of state at lunchtime next Tuesday. European premiers will be gathering in Brussels for a European Council meeting. Discussions are underway about how to ensure that even more pressure is built on the leaders before they meet. European executive directors to the Bank will also meet together for the first time next week. The vote at the board is expected on 31 March.

Alex Wilks ~ March 18, 2005

Increasing pressure on European governments. A multi-country petition challenging the choice of Paul Wolfowitz for World Bank president has met an unprecedented response. It has attracted 1,255 signatories from 68 countries within 30 hours. Eurodad is still receiving signatures at a rate of one a minute. Organisations in different countries have sent it to their heads of state and are pressing for a clear and firm response. More is explained in the press release.

Alex Wilks ~ March 18, 2005

Europeans make demands, maybe. Reuters has been talking to the European Executive Directors who are considering asking for a separate interview with Wolfowitz, to reflect their concern about whether he's right for the job.

Fiercesome stuff. Don't think the directors are being too headstrong though. According to another source Reuters digs up, "the European directors also decided to wait before they made their move to interview Wolfowitz, to see if any other countries put forward opposing candidates."

David Steven ~ March 18, 2005

Staff Association Action. The World Bank Staff Association is fighting for its say on the Wolfowitz nomination, according to an internal email doing the rounds.

"While recognizing that the selection and confirmation of the next World Bank president is the prerogative of the shareholders, staff are asking that their views be taken into consideration and taken seriously by the decision-makers. more...

David Steven ~ March 17, 2005

Protest statement: sign by Friday. Eurodad has launched a sign-on statement on the World Bank presidency nomination. This will be a public expression of concern aiming to build pressure on European heads of state. It will be issued with signatures tomorrow (Friday 18th) late afternoon.

Please sign and also circulate further to your contacts.

Alex Wilks ~ March 17, 2005

Extreme Treasury spin. The US Treasury Department spin-doctors have released a statement praising Wolfowitz to the rafters ("proven leadership skills and ... a passion for development"). And the statement outrageously finds a form of words which implies that other governments were consulted about the new Bank president. more...

Alex Wilks ~ March 16, 2005

Bush lobbying world leaders. President Bush acknowledged that he called Italian president Berlusconi earlier to advocate acceptance of Wolfowitz as World Bank president. In his White House press conference earlier he said "I appreciate world leaders taking my phone calls as I explain to them why I think Paul will be a strong president of the World Bank".

We are hoping that the increasingly active lobbying in the other direction may still have an effect. But the signals we get from various European capitals do not make us over-optimistic at this point. Reaction to this appointment, and how the Europeans organise themselves at the Bank board if Wolfowitz is appointed, are further acid tests of European foreign policy.

Alex Wilks ~ March 16, 2005

Terse World Bank statement. The Bank has itself released a short statement that "The World Bank's Board has received a nomination from the United States for the Presidency of the Bank". It mentions "the Executive Directors of the Board, who are charged under the Bank's Articles of Agreement with the selection of the Bank's President, are in the process of consultations with the member countries they represent".

I called a Bank spokesperson who told me that there is no official deadline or timetable. With Wolfensohn's nomination 10 years ago it took 24 hours for the board to agree. This time it may take longer, but it is up to the board to determine its schedule.

Alex Wilks ~ March 16, 2005

The mushroom principle. At a meeting in Brussels yesterday a range of European Executive Directors to the World Bank expressed their frustration at the process of selecting the next Bank president. One of them told me that they "were in the blue". Another that this website is consistently much more up to date on the issue than they are sitting in Washington at bi-weekly board meetings.

They all expressed frustration that the US government's claims in early January that there would be an open and consultative process have amounted to nothing. more...

Alex Wilks ~ March 15, 2005

Africa Commission urges selection reform. Tony Blair's Africa Commission has recommended reforms to the World Bank's governance and leadership selection. The Commission report states that "appointments of the heads of international institutions should be decided upon by open competition which looks for the best candidate rather than by traditions which limit these appointments by nationality." more...

Alex Wilks ~ March 12, 2005

Diverse new names proposed. Two letters in today's Financial Times suggest new people for the World Bank president job. The first letter, from former World Bank director Venkatachar S. Raghavan, says the US government should look beyond: "business executives or discredited politicos". He proposes Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and an economist of international stature. Raghavan suggests this would be well-received by developing countries and Bank staff. more...

Alex Wilks ~ March 10, 2005

Slate explains. Slate sets out what it means to be World Bank president. "He travels the world, manages an army of 10,000 employees, and shakes lots and lots of hands. When outgoing president James Wolfensohn steps down at the end of May, he will have traveled to more than 120 countries over his two five-year terms". more...

Alex Wilks ~ March 08, 2005

Snow plans to keep job American. U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow emphasised yesterday to ABC News that the next World Bank president would be an American. He even bizarrely claimed that "I've had any number of calls from finance ministers from around the world saying they want it to be an American."

When asked about specific candidates he praised Bono and Fiorina in general terms. But he said "I think we're going to have to wait to reveal that next president of the World Bank for a little while."

Alex Wilks ~ March 07, 2005

"Desperation" in Bank process. A Washington Post columnist has savaged the US approach to choosing a new World Bank president. Sebastian Mallaby, author of a recent book on the Bank, fears that 2005 may be as bad as 1986. This was "a low point in American economic diplomacy" when development novice Barber Conable was shoe-horned into the institution against his will and to the detriment of the Bank.

Mallaby comments that the rumours about Paul Wolfowitz and Carly Fiorina "look like a sign of desperation" and outlines why they should not do the job. more...

Alex Wilks ~ March 07, 2005

Hustling to become president. Wolfensohn's networking and power plays to become World Bank president in 1995 are spelled out in today's Sydney Morning Herald. The article describes who Wolfensohn called, who opposed him, and the ultimatum that he laid down in March 1995 demanding that the White House make its decision within a week, or Wolfensohn would withdraw his candidacy. more...

Alex Wilks ~ February 19, 2005

Europeans push candidates for UNDP. We reported last week the claim by outgoing UNDP head Malloch Brown that his successor would be chosen in an open process. Now, however, three European countries are pushing their own candidates for this position third in the UN hierarchy. more...

Alex Wilks ~ February 17, 2005

NGO statement on Bank governance. A range of NGOs, under the banner of the IFI Democracy Coalition, this week issued a statement complaining about the governance deficits of the World Bank. more...

Alex Wilks ~ February 12, 2005

UNDP - not impressed. A World Bank consultant writes in, distinctly unimpressed by the UNDP's move towards greater transparency in selecting its new head.

"The UNDP is not a specialized agency," he writes. "It is merely one part of the UN secretariat. So, Annan can appoint anyone." more...

David Steven ~ February 11, 2005

UNDP goes for open process. The UN is inviting nominations of qualified candidates for the job of replacing Mark Malloch Brown as head of UNDP, rather than allowing the Europeans to perform the traditional stitch-up.

According to the FT (subs), UN insiders believe the move is a "daring departure from the long-established practice of political deal-making." It is also - surely - an attempt by the UN to grab the high ground as George Bush ponders who to pick as World Bank president. more...

David Steven ~ February 09, 2005

U.S snubs Bank staff on consultation. The World Bank Group Staff Association has written to the US's Acting Executive Director, Bob Holland, demanding a full staff consultation as part of the process for nominating a new Bank president.

His reply (the edited version): fat chance! more...

David Steven ~ February 09, 2005

Insider speaks out. "An open process with a search panel should be the approach for all multilateral institutions," says Peter Woicke, outgoing executive vice president of the World Bank's private lending arm, the International Finance Corporation.

"The institutions suffer as a result of the way they pick their leadership," he argues. more...

David Steven ~ February 03, 2005

Taylor getting close? We're wondering whether John Taylor is closing in on the job. Yesterday, we reported speculation he's on his way from the Treasury, while today's exclusive on Bush's selection panel further bolsters his front-runner status.

The panel has three members - two worked for Condi Rice until recently. Rice is, of course, a member with Taylor of the Stanford/Hoover cabal that have supported Bush from way back when. more...

David Steven ~ February 02, 2005

The White House Kingmakers. Three intriguing - and potentially important - nuggets reach us that throw a little light on the process for selecting the next World Bank president.

First: three White House staffers are thought to be running the candidate selection process. Second: the US Treasury is said to be out of the loop - possibly because of John Taylor's interest in the job. And third: George Bush is believed to want to announce a candidate by the end of February. more...

David Steven ~ February 02, 2005

An £8200 job ad. The appointment of the World Bank president, writes Richard Adams in the Guardian, is "as open and accountable as the bad old days of the Suharto regime in Indonesia."

He calls on the US to do its bit for international transparency by advertising the job - a £8200 half-page ad in the Economist should do it, he believes. more...

David Steven ~ February 01, 2005

Merge Bank/IMF. Fritz Fischer writes to the FT to suggest another way of tackling the "outdated" tradition where the US picks the World Bank President, the Europeans pick the IMF boss, and the rest of the world gets left out: merge the two institutions. more...

David Steven ~ January 31, 2005

Bank chief's parting shots. The Wall Street Journal carries an interview with Bank president Wolfensohn. It confirms that Wolfensohn conducted "a rear-guard action to prevent his removal" and that he never got on well with former US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill. O'Neill criticized Mr. Wolfensohn's management style and considered having him replaced in 2001. more...

Alex Wilks ~ January 27, 2005

Former Bank spokesman condemns timidity. Tim Cullen, former Chief Spokesman of the Bank, has written to the Financial Times complaining that other governments are too timid to challenge the US to force a proper search process for the Bank’s top job. more...

Alex Wilks ~ January 27, 2005

Wolfensohn using this site. "I should tell you I took to the meeting with the Secretary [Snow] a print out of worldbankpresident.org and we used that as the basis of our discussion," current president James Wolfensohn told Bank staff at his 'Town Hall' staff meeting.

"So if any of you want to be up to date on the inside scoop, check worldbankpresident.org, and you'll probably know as much as I do." more...

Alex Wilks ~ January 27, 2005

Diplomatic Dutch give little away. An article in leading Dutch daily de Volkskrant credits worldbankpresident.org and interviews me and Ad Melkert, the Dutch representative on the World Bank's board. more...

Alex Wilks ~ January 26, 2005

UN ticks off Bank and IMF. Inter Press reports a "rare" display of public censure from the UN, which has rebuked the World Bank and IMF for failing to broaden developing country participation in international economic decision making.

In fact, the criticism in the 2005 World Economic Situation and Prospects echoes that in the 2004 report. The UN is clearly irked by the mess surrounding the appointment of the IMF director and the failure of both institutions to put a more open process in place...

David Steven ~ January 26, 2005

Southern countries following not leading. Developing country representatives have so far failed to put forward a candidate for the Bank position. They have also resisted making statements about the process. Reports I have received of recent meetings with developing country representatives in Washington indicate that they are not prepared to act for fear of offending the USA. more...

Alex Wilks ~ January 22, 2005

Democracy not the point. Assistant Pol-Sci Prof, Vikash Yadav links to worldbankpresident.org, before taking on the conventional wisdom that we need a more democratic presidential selection process.

Professor Yadav's argument in a nutshell: (i) the Bank is not meant to democratic; (ii) its main priority must be to maintain creditor confidence; (iii) this means keeping the US on board. more...

David Steven ~ January 19, 2005

Inertia in the system. An article from Inter-Press Service records further discontent with the murky selection process for World Bank president. The piece - which cites this site - quotes leading US development campaigners but says it "is not only development groups that fault the IMF and the World Bank for their so-called 'democracy deficit'. In both 2000 and 2004, developing countries and others (including Japan in 2000) protested their exclusion from consideration in the choice of the IMF managing director." more...

Alex Wilks ~ January 19, 2005

Advice for the new president. Handy tips for the incoming president of the Bank are listed in today's Financial Times. They include a suggestion not to shout at staff and a promise that despite the decentralisation of some Bank decision-making "you can still parachute in for dinner with a president and immediately earmark extra funds for his pet project".

Alex Wilks ~ January 14, 2005

New rules. A useful site for those interested to compare the Bank's selection process with the IMF's...

David Steven ~ January 13, 2005

Smooth transition. At yesterday's press conference on the Asian tsunami, outgoing Bank president James Wolfensohn called for his successor to be appointed quickly to allow a smooth transition.

His staff are preparing a "how to run the Bank" manual for the new president, he said, and he expects bootlegged copies to soon be circulating among the press. We'll let you know when we have a copy... more...

David Steven ~ January 13, 2005

Undemocratic institutions. In a letter to the FT, Rick Rowden argues that, behind the US's efforts to "undemocratically select" a new president, lies a broader problem: the undemocratic structure of the Bank and its sister institution, the IMF. more...

David Steven ~ January 13, 2005

FT slams search process. The Financial Times comments that "shamefully, the US and the EU show no sign of abandoning the stitch-up by which an American runs the World Bank in return for a European running the International Monetary Fund".

It foresees "unprecedented jockeying" for this vacant position and urges the world "not to accept a second rate American candidate". more...

Alex Wilks ~ January 11, 2005

Opening up? On Friday U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow said the U.S. government is asking other countries to suggest potential candidates to be next president of the World Bank. Snow told Bloomberg Radio "we're beginning a succession planning process and the search committee of the board will be asked to develop criteria that will give many countries a chance to participate in the process". more...

Alex Wilks ~ January 08, 2005

The official version. The IMF/Bank joint report offers an official version of how Wolfensohn got the job (unofficial version here). more...

David Steven ~ January 08, 2005

A more transparent process. A few years back, the Bank and IMF woke up to the fact that neither had "specific formal selection procedures" for selecting their President/Managing Director.

What to do? A joint report was presented to Executive Directors of the Bank and Fund in Spring 2001. Five principles were recommended for future succession processes. more...

David Steven ~ January 08, 2005

A challenge to the process? The Economic Times in India comments that “developing countries are expected to push for a broader range of candidates and to contend the practice of giving the presidency to an American is outdated”. Let’s certainly hope so. more...

Alex Wilks ~ January 07, 2005

The Job Advert. "WORLD BANK PRESIDENT: Must attempt to eradicate poverty, AIDS, corruption, and illiteracy in developing world within five-year term. Desired skills include working knowledge of economics, management training, and the ability to cooperate and listen to G-7, IMF, NGO community, and the developing countries. People skills a plus. American citizenship a prerequisite."

Head over to Dan Drezner's site to see more...

David Steven ~ January 07, 2005

I remember the last time. Everyone knows that you need to be an American to be in with a shot of making World Bank President. So how come James Wolfensohn is Australian?

According to Sebastian Mallaby, Wolfensohn was put at the top of a list of non-Americans that 4th President, Robert McNamara, thought worth considering for the job. None of them were really going to be selected, but it seemed a nice idea to put a foreigner in the frame. more...

David Steven ~ January 05, 2005

A medieval process. The World Bank needs a new leader at the same time as the World Trade Organisation. Comparisons between the processes followed by these two powerful public institutions are instructive. Despite all its talk of good governance for others, the Bank's approach is medieval. more...

Alex Wilks ~ January 05, 2005


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