Yesterday Russia joined the US, Canada, Mexico, Korea, and Japan in saying they will back Kim. They have only 1.7 per cent of the votes at the Bank, but they do have one of the 25 board seats. And they’re the first BRICS country to come out for him. Perhaps tellingly, their statement didn’t explain why they preferred Kim to his more experienced challenger, Okonjo-Iweala. I expect this is the route those backing Kim for (misguided) geopolitical considerations will go. Praise Kim, don’t mention the alternative, or how they decided his merits were better than Okonjo-Iweala’s. We shall see soon enough.
While Bank-watchers were expecting the final decision to be made next week, we should have paid more attention to more reputable sources. I’m talking of course of Dartmouth College, the US Ivy League school no one outside of the US had ever heard of until its President was plucked from nowhere to run for the World Bank Presidency. Ok, Ok, I’m being unfair. Probably not that many in the US had heard of it either.
The great and the good are weighing into the World Bank President debate – in addition to the senior Bank staffers coming out in support of Okonjo-Iweala, over one hundred well respected economists have come out for Ocampo. Here’s what they had to say:
We the undersigned economists, endorse the candidacy of Jose Antonio Ocampo for President of the World Bank. Throughout his career Dr. Ocampo has managed and reformed national ministries of finance, agriculture and planning, and regional and global UN Agencies pertaining to economic development and social affairs. Furthermore, he is one of the most noted development economists of our time. It is our view that based his relative merits, Dr. Ocampo is the most suitable candidate for World Bank president.
Has anyone heard a peep out of Jim Yong Kim? He wants to be President of the world’s most influential development institution, yet – as far as I can tell – he hasn’t given a single interview to any press outlet anywhere.
“He is a very competent doctor, but if we speak strictly about development experience, the Nigerian minister and I amply surpass him.”
There’s been plenty of discussion on this blog and elsewhere about Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and the surprise US pick, Jim Yong Kim has provoked a flurry of interest, not least in his dancing prowess, but former Colombian finance Minister, Jose Antonio Ocampo seems to have sneaked through under the radar. So I thought we should see why his supporters are backing him. Here’s the most detailed campaign pitch, from Boston University Professor Kevin Gallagher, writing in the Financial Times:
If the decision is finally based on merit, as it should be, Ocampo will win: he is far and away better than any on the list of credible names, including Continue reading
Nominations close at 6pm Washington time today – that’s 10pm GMT. Two candidates appear definite.
Columbia University’s Jeff Sachs says he’s in, nominated by a collection of developing countries. Nigerian Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will face him, nominated by the South African consituency, which includes her home country and Angola. Slightly unbelievably, the US is yet to make up its mind which of an unimpressive list of second tier candidates it wants to choose.
But what of former Colombian finance minister, Jose Antonio Ocampo? Continue reading
The self-nomination of Jeff Sachs into the ‘race’ has certainly livened things up. David Bosco reports that Bank staff don’t think much of Sachs – which may be a good or a bad thing depending on your opinion of Bank staff. Sachs has shown he has some political nous by highlighting one central weakness of the Bank under Zoellick – the desire to prioritise everything. It always looked suspiciously more like empire building than strategic direction. Continue reading