In the wake of Jeffrey Sachs’ unprecedented open candidacy for World Bank president comes important news that developing country economists may also join the race: former minister of finance for Colombia and former senior UN official José Antonio Ocampo, and Nigerian finance minister and former high level World Bank official Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. (Okonjo-Iweala is denying she will seek the position.) If this happens, in a similarly public way, as it appears it will, this will be a huge and irreversible step forward for World Bank governance reform. It would be a leap closer towards what the World Bank’s members have officially adopted as their preference for choosing the Bank’s leader: an open, merit-based process. A contest, of sorts, between Ocampo and Sachs (and perhaps Okonjo-Iweala) – presumably with developing country support behind them – would be a sea change from the Bank’s past practice of putting the U.S.’ (and the Global North’s) interests first in selecting presidents, with developing countries excluded. The succession this time is far different than in 2005, for example, when the Bush administration simply declared that Paul Wolfowitz would helm the Bank, to howls of protest but no known alternative nominees.
CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot yesterday issued a statement supporting Jeffrey Sachs’ reform candidacy for the World Bank. Reform is the operative word here. It is the nature of Sachs’ candidacy – the changes he proposes for what the World Bank does, coupled with his undeniable credentials – that makes his candidacy “unprecedented” and important.
Sachs’ candidacy sets the stage for a public debate over the issues that World Bank reform advocates consider most important, Continue reading