FT praises Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

The FT published an editorial on Tuesday arguing that Nigeria’s minister of the economy and finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, should get the World Bank presidency job. While recognising that the US candidate Jim Yong Kim “could be a good choice” because of his background in health and his managerial experience at the World Health Organisation, the FT states that “the Bank needs more than this”:

“Its new leader should have a command of macroeconomics, the respect of leaders of both the funding and the funded countries, and the management skills to implement his or her vision. These requirements make Ms Okonjo-Iweala the best person for the role.”

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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

With Larry Summers’ World Bank Bid in Trouble, Mexico Insists on Open Process

Early last week the New York Times reported that despite all the previous fine rhetoric about the G20 and consultation and open process, the US Treasury Department had decided to rule by decree and impose its own candidate for the next president of the World Bank, the G20 be damned. U.S. officials informed G20 officials that the US intended to “retain control of the bank,” as the Times put it. According to the Times, the G20 countries grumbled but showed no sign of being willing to fight Treasury. The U.S. candidate would be a “lock,” the Times said, “since Europe will almost certainly support whomever Washington picks.” Continue reading

Journalist’s crib sheet: How to cover World Bank elections

The crib sheet on “how to cover African elections” [h/t Duncan Green] made it almost too easy… Freelance journalist Jina Moore complains about the typical Western media coverage of disputed elections in Africa. She says a certain stereotype of rigged elections is portrayed, while the media ignore the very free and fair elections happening elsewhere on the continent.

But the text was so easily adaptable to the World Bank! With a few tweaks (underlines are merely filling in Jina’s crib sheet, tweaks are in red), I just had to give it a go:

“These days, nowhere are crises selection processes more predictable than in the World Bank (poor/recently violent country). And yet, when they unfold as anticipated, Western policymakers and diplomats always seem caught off guard — raising questions about the competence, willingness, and commitment of the Washington-based representatives diplomatic corps and the United Nations mission to discharge their responsibilities and meet their promises for a process that is truly fair.”

“….Nothing underscores the apathy and inconsistency hypocrisy that characterize Western diplomacy in the World Bank more than the current impasse… Continue reading

Calls for developing country candidates growing stronger

With over 2,200 votes on the worldbankpresident.org poll within less than a week of its launch, the demand for developing world candidates has perhaps never been stronger.

Devesh Kapur, who co-authored the official history of the World Bank, calls the nomination process “dreadfully antiquated” in an article for the New Europe Post Online, arguing that the Bank in reality has little choice but to look to the growing emerging-market economies, rather than the indebted West, for resources. But they would then “rightly demand a greater voice in running the Bank”. Kapur lists Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, Ernest Zedillo of Mexico and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria, to name a few, as favoured developing country candidates. But he also doesn’t rule out Hilary Clinton as a credible candidate.

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Campaigners demand fair selection process as Zoellick finally says he will step down

Increased rumours this week proved to be right as Zoellick just announced today that he will step down at the end of his first term as World Bank president, on 30 June. Reacting to the announcement, a global coalition of campaigners has issued an open letter to World Bank governors calling for an open and merit-based process to elect the next Bank president, and for developing countries to determine the selection: Continue reading

Timely history on international appointments – US likes to throw its weight around

Last week, an IPS article provides a timely history of how the US likes to throw its weight around in international appointments. It review some ongoing appointments at UN agencies and relates stories from the leadership of Boutros Boutros-Ghali at the UN Secretariat.From IPS:

Ertharin Cousin, a U.S. national, will be the new executive director in an organisation [World Food Programme] which in recent years has been dominated by the United States, the last two heads being Catherine Bertini and Josette Sheeran. Continue reading

Larry Summers? You have to be joking.

Although a certain former first lady has been constantly mooted as Zoellick’s successor it seems that Obama may be also considering another candidate. Larry Summers is former Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton, and head of the National Economics Council under Obama, and is currently a professor at Harvard. He is also rather notorious for his part in the deregulation of the finance sector, brazen comments on the ‘scientific aptitude’ of women, and for advocating increased pollution in developing countries as a cost-cutting exercise.

Needless to say he is what is politely called a ‘divisive’ figure. After a brief period in which commentators seemed to be momentarily stupefied by the news, Summer’s candidacy has now provoked a rapid, and incredulous, response from the political blogosphere.

Felix Salmon at Reuters pleads:

Please, Barack, don’t do it! … giving him the World Bank job would be a disaster.

Before adding that:

giving the job to any American is a bad idea. We’re long past the point at which it makes any sense at all that the president of the World Bank should always be an American.

David Dayen at popular blog Fire Dog Lake likens Summers to a zombie, and seconds Salmon’s view that he should not be appointed to the role:

You just can’t get rid of zombie Larry Summers. He can get drummed out of Harvard. He can see the deregulation policies he pushed in the Clinton Administration lead to a financial meltdown. He can preside over a sluggish economy for two years during the Obama Administration, after which Congress flips to the opposition. And he just keeps falling upwards

Over at the Huffington Post Jason Linkins asks whether ‘Surely President Obama Is Joking About This ‘Have Larry Summers Run The World Bank’ Thing!’. His view is no less damning:

At any rate, it seems pretty clear that his prickliness, his record of being a source of dysfunction, and that teensy little thing where the policies he supported helped wreck the economy would all disqualify Summers

Any thoughts on Summers dear readers?

We’re back!

Yes, Zoellick’s term is up this year, and the rumour mill is going into overdrive – most suggesting that he’s gonna step down so he can return to his first love: Republican Party politics.

So we’ve redesigned and relaunched your favourite blog site (check out all those social media buttons) where you can get all the news, views, and gossip about how his successor should be selected, who should get the job, and what their priorities should be. Multiple professor (at both Canadian and Indian universities) Sunil Chacko already got the ball rolling with a recent Huffington Post article.

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So keep coming back to follow the battle for the Bank in real time!