Race heating up, in good ways and bad–a suggestion for integrity and transparency

As the world press begins to take an interest in the selection of Robert Zoellick’s successor, last week’s events prove one thing: Having a choice of candidates, for the first time, confirms that the job of World Bank president is important, and that stakeholders care. Continue reading

Jim Kim

There is huge enthusiasm in Washington this morning, and no small measure of surprise.

A World Bank president nominee with a sense of humor and who mixes with his stakeholders.  After seven years of social awkwardness, Jim Kim’s ability to ‘mix it up’, as demonstrated in this “Dartmouth Idol” video, will be a welcome change.

A Korean-born physician and pioneer in the treatment of HIV, AIDS and tuberculosis, Kim has the breadth of experience on development issues needed to carry out the financial institution’s anti-poverty mission. He brings Continue reading

Talking about the future of the Bank

The latest Washington Post report on the heating up campaign talks about competition for the job.  It does not say that an American won’t be chosen.  It speaks to some World Bank executive directors wanting to make the selection “competitive”. This is not a bad thing because it will legitimize the selection of the American who is put forward.

But in the continuing obsession with the process Continue reading

Susan Rice candidacy in trouble

Between the idle speculation about various “dream” non-candidates (Lula, Sri Mulyani, Bachelet, Ngozi), the shameless self-promotion by academics (Sachs), and the attacks on Larry Summers after the White House leaked his name a month ago, and the NGOs’ unwillingness to go beyond criticizing the selection process to specify the selection criteria and how to apply them, the rumored White House frontrunner, Susan Rice, is in trouble.

Visibility at the UN is a big asset for an international job.  In some ways it compensates for Dr. Rice’s lack of first-hand experience on development issues, and inexperience at running a big organization in the public sector.

The downside is that you make enemies.  And Russia and China are not the kind of enemies you want if the White House was thinking of you as Robert Zoellick’s successor. Continue reading

Criteria for choosing Zoellick’s successor

After former World Bank Executive Director Moises Naim weighed in with ‘critical tips’, thoughtful commentary in the FT by former World Bank Vice Presidents, academics Ian Goldin and Danny Leipziger, and a robust rejoinder to Goldin from former World Bank staff member Percy Mistry highlight the issues the world should expect the World Bank’s owners and board to take into account as they prepare a shortlist of three, interview candidates, and select “by consensus” Robert Zoellick’s successor.

Taken together, these contributions enrich the rather bland criteria set out by the board in its announcement of what it will take into account.

What these four notes address is the Bank’s relevance in the modern world. All four hint, or say quite broadly, that there’s a problem, and that ‘something needs to be done’. Continue reading

Obama advisor says why Larry Summers won’t be the US nominee

Valerie Jarrett, a senior White House advisor, made it clear in an interview why it’s just as well Larry Summers is happy as President Emeritus at Harvard.

In this Daily Beast interview Jarrett used the occasion to hint how important women are to Obama’s re-election. He enjoys solid support and higher approval ratings than his Republican challengers.

Jarrett was pretty clear: “The jobs of the future are science, engineering and math, and those are the jobs that women have shied away from,” she said. The guarantee of a strong education for every child is the magic bullet, and the administration is working toward that goal. “If you have an education, then the sky is the limit,” she said. Teaching our daughters and colleagues confidence is crucial to the formula for women’s success.”

Summers would, no doubt, agree on the future of good American jobs, and how important it is for more women to be in these STEM fields.  That’s not his reputation, alas, after his speech at Harvard before the faculty removed him, and the White House isn’t going to risk alienating a key bloc of supporters in November.

Discuss among yourselves, journalists. If the reaction to the earlier White House leak didn’t take Summers out, this interview should make it clear that Larry will be staying in Cambridge.

Good Advice from Center for Global Development’s Nancy Birdsall

In a CGD “wonkcast”, Nancy Birdsall sets out some excellent criteria for the next World Bank president.

Ability to “corral” the World Bank’s resident, 25-person board onto a new agenda, including perhaps letting loose their grip on how the Bank runs, day-to-day, will be key.  This will involve personal and persuasive skills that the Bank has not seen much in evidence since Jim Wolfensohn’s departure nearly seven years ago.  Admittedly, Wolfensohn had a rocky start, and a stormy relationship with the Executive Directors at times, but once he realized that “what’s good for the Bank is good for Jim Wolfensohn, and vice versa” he moved the Bank to a new level of respect and effectiveness, with a Board that was fully behind him. Continue reading

Wasting time talking about people

There has been endless speculation in the media, fueled by CSO activism bordering on fantasy and hissy-fits, about names rumored and leaked to be in the running to replace Robert Zoellick on July 1.

Now is the time to tell the owners of the Bank, who will nominate candidates, and the Board, who will choose from among the three they shortlist, what profile the next World Bank president should have, beyond the generic criteria that the Development Committee endorsed. Continue reading

Getting ready to pick the next World Bank President

Robert Zoellick’s article in Foreign Affairs “Why We Still Need the World Bank” http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/137243/robert-b-zoellick/why-we-still-need-the-world-bank was intended to be a flattering account of the Bank’s achievements during his time as its president.  Correlation is not, of course, causality, but as the World Bank’s Board gets ready to select his successor from a shortlist of three nominees, it’s time to look more closely at what’s missing. Continue reading