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.

 

“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.”

A question of credibility

Here is a question that keeps on nagging at me; what will be the reputational cost to the World Bank and Mr. Kim himself, once the charade of this selection process is over and he is confirmed as the new President of the World Bank?.
I say once, since it seems quite clear that after all the noise about merit based selection by the G20, the directors on the board of the bank will eventually cast their votes according to their shares.
Now, that there seems to be almost a universal judgment that Mr. Kim is the least qualified of the three candidates for the job, how will his credibility – and hence effectiveness, and that of the bank, fare after he takes over?

“The World Bank presidency should not be an apprenticeship”

Jagdish Bhagwati takes on Obama in an opinion article published by Project Syndicate. He starts his argument saying:

“What .. does Obama’s choice tell us about the sincerity of his feminist rhetoric? Does he draw the line wherever it suits him? In fact, if Obama and his advisers could not stomach Okonjo-Iweala on the ground that she is not American, surely they could have nominated an American woman who was also vastly superior to Kim for the job.” Suggesting that  Laura Tyson, who chaired the President’s Council of Economic Advisers under Bill Clinton, or Lael Brainard, who is now Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs would have been a better choice.

He goes on to add  “.. it is the rapid acceleration of economic growth in the major emerging countries that has reduced poverty, not only directly, through jobs and higher incomes, but also by generating the revenues governments need to undertake the public-health, education, and other programs that sustain poverty reduction – and growth – in the long term. India followed this path. So did Brazil’s former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – after the reforms undertaken by his predecessor produced the revenues that could then be spent on programs to aid the poor further.”

“Whose World Bank?”

Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics and former Chief Economist of the World Bank weights in the debate with an opinion piece in Project Syndicate:

“Should America continue to insist on controlling the selection process, it is the bank itself that would suffer. For years, its effectiveness was compromised because it was seen, in part, as a tool of Western governments and their countries’ financial and corporate sectors. Ironically, even America’s Continue reading

Former World Bank senior managers send an open letter to the Board

As reported earlier today by the AFP, “In an open letter, 39 former managers and economists called on the Bank’s executive board to make their decision on merit, when the board considers more than one candidate for the job for the first time.”

Here is the letter in full: Continue reading

Ngozi calls for a televised debate

In an interview published today in the New York Times, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala calls for a televised debate between the three candadetes for the position of President of the World Bank:

” I think the media should call for a debate of the three candidates, like you have for other important positions, to see who really knows what they are doing. Let’s all of us have a televised debate showing the world what we can do, so people can judge for themselves who is the most qualified to lead.”