Will Obama choose to make history ?

The race for the next President of the World Bank’s Group just got a whole lot more interesting with the formal nomination of former Managing Director and current Finance Minister of Nigeria; Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, and, the less exciting, former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo . Ngozi’s nomination will, no doubt, make it very hard for the US Administration to put forward a credible nominee that can match her skill and reputation, even if they nominate a woman. Most of the representatives of the developing countries on the board of the World Bank are expected to line up behind Ngozi. The one and only thing missing from Ngozi’s CV is a US nationality. The Obama administration will certainly Continue reading

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

Qualities required – two interesting views

Two well written pieces have caught my eye recently, with different views about what makes a good World Bank president. First, former Venezuelan Minister and Bank executive director Moisés Naím lists what he believes are five misconceptions in the Financial Times:

1. The World Bank is a bank and thus its leader should be a banker. No! The Bank is more than a bank. It is a consulting company for developing countries, a multilateral organisation, an intensely political entity as well as a highly technical one. Its role as an international lending bank is declining relative to its advisory role.

2. Its leader needs to be a politician with access to the US President and a stellar Rolodex. No! Being chums with the president and other heavyweights of course helps. But just having access to power without also having a vision for the institution has been disastrous…

3. The candidate needs to be a development expert. No! 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