It seems to me that unless the developing countries, including the BRICS, close ranks behind one of their two candidates, Ngozi or Ocampo, they will all lose any legitimacy in calling for a merit based selection process with no regard to national origin. If this does not happen very soon, I don’t see a reason for any of the industrial nations to take them seriously enough to not vote with the US for Dr. Kim, or pay attention to any of their other demands for that matter.
I’ve seen some of the EU governments’ confidential reports of the interviews EU governors had with the three Presidential candidates last week. Of course they all had differing views, but a fair summary would be:
Okonjo-Iweala: passionate performer, good knowledge of how the World Bank operates, but her pitch wasn’t so well set out or structured.
Ocampo: best prepared, clearest ideas about where he would take the Bank, most knowledgeable on economic issues. Quite academic in style.
Kim: Very committed, but limited knowledge outside health, and particularly not on finance and economics.
In an interesting article, Benn Steil, in the New York Times, traces the history of how a spy scandal led to the unwritten arrangement between the US and European powers to divide the leadership of the IMF and World Bank between them.
He concludes his historical account of how this came about saying “Instead of treating the World Bank presidency as a sacred American birthright, we should remember that it was never more than a consolation prize for an administration trying to dodge a spy scandal.”
In an Op-Ed article today in the Financial Times, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala says ” My own approach to thinking about development has been influenced by my childhood experiences. I grew up in a village in Nigeria where I knew poverty first-hand. I lived through the Nigerian civil war in my formative years, where I observed how violence could set back years of economic development. My thinking has also been shaped by the past 30 years, working in almost every region of the world on thorny issues of development. It has certainly been informed by four years as finance and foreign minister in one of the most challenging but also exciting countries in the world – Nigeria.
A New York Times op-ed by Thomas J. Bollyky the senior fellow for global health, economics and development at the Council on Foreign Relations lays out a strong case for selecting Jim Kim as part of a strategy for the United States to get behind the momentum for change at the World Bank. Continue reading
An online poll by the Guardian Newspaper: Who should be the next president of the World Bank?
Jagdish Bhagwati takes on Obama in an opinion article published by Project Syndicate. He starts his argument saying:
“What .. does Obama’s choice tell us about the sincerity of his feminist rhetoric? Does he draw the line wherever it suits him? In fact, if Obama and his advisers could not stomach Okonjo-Iweala on the ground that she is not American, surely they could have nominated an American woman who was also vastly superior to Kim for the job.” Suggesting that Laura Tyson, who chaired the President’s Council of Economic Advisers under Bill Clinton, or Lael Brainard, who is now Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs would have been a better choice.
He goes on to add “.. it is the rapid acceleration of economic growth in the major emerging countries that has reduced poverty, not only directly, through jobs and higher incomes, but also by generating the revenues governments need to undertake the public-health, education, and other programs that sustain poverty reduction – and growth – in the long term. India followed this path. So did Brazil’s former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – after the reforms undertaken by his predecessor produced the revenues that could then be spent on programs to aid the poor further.”