Red flags at Ngozi’s CGD speech

Ngozi gave a speech and took part in a question and answer session at CGD recently. She was her usual effusive and passionate self, although often a little vague when it came to policy positions. The mainstream press has picked up on her campaign motifs: she put a large emphasis on job creation (although her actual record on job creation is called into question here), and on the Bank delivering finance/results/technical assistance faster. The Washington Post covers some more things here, including her insistence that US capital contriutions will not be threatened by a non-US candidate.

On some issues she seemed to demand significant changes at the Bank. She said the Bank should look at the African Development Bank for lessons on selecting leaders, seemingly endorsing double-majority voting, and said there needs to be a serious conversation about increasing capital contributions and voting shares for MICs.

There were however some other interesting points I think should be brought to light. These seem to indicate that on many issues she is sticking to already well-developed Bank approaches, and reaffirm her status as the ‘establishment choice’. Reformers and revolutionaries beware. On other issues she raised various red flags for campaigners: Continue reading

With Ngozi appearances deceive

Patrick Bond’s three part essay on the race for the presidency for the World Bank, published below, contains a long section on Ngozi. It is in part three and is well worth a read, as it one of the few times we have seen the Nigerain finance ministers record called seriously into question. Ngozi has been the subject of countless fawning op-eds from the commentariat in Washington and Europe, with very little analysis of her tenure at the Bank or in the Nigerian government. It seems strange that an elected official, nominated for such an important position, should not receive more scrutiny. She has run a smooth PR campaign thus far, and it seems journalists have exercised their energy on Kim, with little critical fuel left in the tank for Ngozi. Continue reading

Jim Yong Kim: a mover and a shaker

There are important questions to discuss. Does Kim have enough political experience to manage the Bank’s board? Is he high profile enough? He has experience in health, but what about financial markets? Will the BRICs be pleased? Can he do the robot while wearing a white-studded leather jacket and spaceman sungalsses?

Some of those questions will have to wait, but I can happily announce that we can answer the last one. Would you ever catch Zoellick doing this?

Larry Summers the US candidate? Fuggedaboutit!

With the Friday deadline for an American candidate looming, the grapevine is sprouting new fruit at a rapid rate. The latest rumour adds a little chicenery to the mix, with news that Geithner’s leaked list, which included Susan Rice, Larry Summers and John Kerry, actually had decoy names on it! What sneaky smoke and mirrors by the Treasury Secretary! And his grand plan to befuddle the general public was all so his homeboy Larry Summers could land the World Bank job.

Excuse the flippant tone, but these whispers of high level machinations by schemeing string-pullers in Washington have added a little spice to this story. We were all getting a little bogged down in Sachs to be honest. So, it seems that Larry Summers is the only US candidate at present. It’s been well established that Summers is not exactly Mr Popularity, and a new petition and accompanying website, Larry Summers? Fuggedaboutit!, picks up where many an have left off. The site is a playful reminder of Summers’s past indiscretions, with a section called ‘Let them eat waste’ detailing his absurd proposal to outsource pollution to poor countries. At the same time it is serious in its intent Continue reading

Will the next World Bank president have ‘official views’?

Amidst all the talk of Jeffrey Sachs’s ‘pick me!’ campaign, Larry Summer’s numerous indiscretions, and the dimming prospect of a BRIC candidate, development consultant Ben Ramalingam offers something a little different. Drawing on work by former Bank staffer and academic David Ellerman he argues that a problem with the Bank is that it has ‘official views’. These views, which the Bank pours energy and resources into coming up with, constitute the Bank’s official line on issues, and become orthodoxies that inhibit genuine learning, country and community ownership, and open dialogue:

adverse opinions and critical reasoning tend to give way to authority, rules and bureaucratic reasoning shaped by the hierarchies within the organisation. Moreover, these Official Views “short-circuit” and bypass the active learning capability of national and local actors, and substitute the authority of external agencies in its place Continue reading

Whispers in Washington: US to ensure its candidate will be president

As the White House keeps it lips seeled on who its candidate might be, and pointedly makes no public commitment on the status of the ‘gentlemans agreement’, we’re often left to contemplate the snatches of gossip, conjecture and rumour that trickle forth from DC. Alan Beattie, international economics editor at the Financial Times, is an old Washington-hand, and a well connected fellow. If anyone knows which whispers in Washington are the right ones to listen to, it’s probably him. And his recent article for the FT may be a little deflating for those hoping that this time things will be different. The clue is in the rather unequivocal title, ‘US to keep grip on helm of World Bank’. Continue reading

BRIC leadership and the environment: a dilemma?

An interesting recent article by Environment and Energy Publishing outlines a dilemma for environmentalists advocating for change at the World Bank. Green groups have long-called for a more democratic institution that genuinely addresses both poverty and environmental destruction in developing countries, and have often been prominent in arguing against the archaic convention that sees the US president appoint the Bank’s leader. But, on the other hand many environmentalists acknowledge that any potential candidate from the BRICs may put less of an emphasis on environmental issues than the US. Continue reading

FT and Bloomberg: Selection is “lacking in legitimacy” and a “stich-up”

Two of the heavyweights in economic journalism have written editorials criticising the convention that sees the US traditionally choosing the World Bank president. The Financial Times and Bloomberg are not commonly known for their strident calls for justice. If anything their stance illustrates quite how absurdly anachronistic the convention looks today.

Bloomberg says that:

That custom has outlived any semblance of propriety. The White House should think again … This cozy arrangement, always lacking in legitimacy, was once defensible as a practical matter. It’s telling that nobody any longer even attempts such a defense. The arrangement is rightly seen as an affront to Brazil, China, India and the other fast-growing developing economies. It’s also inimical to the very idea of international cooperation on terms of mutual respect — and not just for the countries excluded from any say in the matter. Continue reading