Ocampo at the CGD public debate

In his turn at the presentations organised at CGD, José Antonio Ocampo expressed his view on the Bank, being quite critical of the issues in which, according to him, the institution has not performed well, like country ownership and cooperation with other international organisations. He also expressed the need to change the culture of the Bank in order for it to become a clients-based organisation, and criticised the US for not increasing capital or allowing other countries to do so.

On country ownership he said: Continue reading

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

“Why Jim Yong Kim won’t change the World Bank”

Another thoughtful blog from Felix Salmon on why no one should expect Dr. Kim to change much in the World Bank.

“.. the World Bank won’t move far in that direction so long as its president is imposed by fiat of the US. In order to work effectively at the sub-national and international level, the World Bank needs to be a genuinely international organization, run by and for the whole world, rather than being viewed as a means for the US to project “soft power” in Africa and elsewhere. “

Ocampo takes shots at the US and the staff of the World Bank


In today’s event at CGD, Jose Antonio Ocampo said “The current president was too shy in asking for a capital increase,”… “The United States “says it cannot get the money through Congress, but it does not want to lose shares in the (Bank’s) capital. So that means we’re stuck with a World Bank which is constrained by its major shareholder.” Adding “At one point, sooner rather than later, the Bank will have to negotiate a capital increase.”
He also went on to speak about what he will change Continue reading

Bank reform – a thoughtful list of key issues

My former colleagues at the Bretton Woods Project have just published their bi-monthly Bretton Woods Update with a cover article summarising some of the key issues that whoever wins the Presidency will have to tackle.  Worth reading in full, but here are some snippets, the first on the rise of emerging markets:

One of the most pressing issues is how to work effectively with large emerging market countries. Continue reading

We must examine candidates’ track record on rejecting the Washington Consensus

Below is a guest post from Vitalice Meja, Coordinator of Reality of Aid Africa Network.

The current debate on the next president to the World Bank is as interesting as it is puzzling. While for the first time there seems an opportunity for a candidate from a developing country to take over, the debate seems to focus around supporting individuals rather than their credentials on development agenda and transformation.

World Bank is a global institution and leading it requires a President who has an acumen to address the challenges that affect the world in a very pragmatic and dynamic manner. Such a candidate should not be limited by the failed ideological formations that have underpinned the institution of the World Bank.

For those in the developing world especially Africa, certain elements are paramount in deciding the right president for the bank. These include the following Continue reading

Sizing up the candidates

Now that we know the three candidates, a lot of ink will be spilled weighing them up against each other. I asked an expert with more than 30 years of experience on the field of development  finance to give an opinion. This expert – who has experience in the public, private and third sector – asked to remain anonymous because over the years the person had worked with several of the candidates (and expects to work with them all in the future). The assessment:

“We have 3 candidates. There seems to be a growing consensus that the winner needs to (a) be from a developing country rather than a US candidate; (b) be anti the Washington consensus agenda (privatisation and liberalisation) and pro-equitable and bottom up development; and (c) have experience of managing a large organisation.

So how do the candidates measure up to these criteria ?

Okonjo-Iweala: Continue reading

US World Bank nominee under fire over book

From Robin Harding of the FT 

Jim Yong Kim, the US nominee to head the World Bank, is coming under fire over a book he co-authored that criticises “neoliberalism” and “corporate-led economic growth”, arguing that in many cases they had made the middle classes and the poor in developing countries worse off.

Some economists are arguing thatDying for Growth, jointly edited by Dr Kim and published in 2000, puts too great a focus on health policy over broader economic growth.

“Dr Kim would be the first World Bank president ever who seems to be anti-growth,” said William Easterly, professor of economics at New York University. “Even the severest of World Bank critics like me think that economic growth is what we want.”

Continue to the full article 

The World Bank needs reform: democracy, accountability, climate change, and more

We closed the poll on which issues at the Bank need the most reform. You can see it at the bottom of the page. Its worth noting that there was a fairly even spread of issues that people thought needed reform. But the top issues were: democracy and accountability at the Bank; the Bank’s involvement in climate finance; improvement of public health systems; duty to respect and protect human rights; and the development impact of extractive industries. Lets review some of these, with some conjecture on the candidate’s positions:

First democracy and accountability – the first half of which is not strictly in the power of the Bank President. That said, the President can use his bully pulpit to argue for and demand changes in the alignment of power among shareholders. For all his many faults, this is something Strauss-Kahn did during his tenure at the IMF. While Zoellick’s parting words tried to put the multilateral into the Bank, he did precious little during his term to up the democracy quotient. The second half of that reform demand – accountability – is another matter. The president could set down the law about making sure there is greater participation by affected communities in Bank projects, and could also strengthen the independent accountability mechanisms at the Bank. By a rough read, this is not something that seems to be in the experience of US-nominee Jim Yong Kim, while Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as a Bank insider for decades is not seen as friendly to this agenda, while Jose Antonio Ocampo, as someone with a strong UN background, presumably takes inclusiveness more seriously. Continue reading