Can Jim Yong Kim Reinvent the World Bank?

Jim Yong Kim – a public health expert, president of Dartmouth College
and astute rapper – is the US government’s candidate for the presidency
of the World Bank. As Dani Rodrik, a development expert at Harvard
University, summed it up this morning, “it’s nice to see that Obama can
still surprise us.” Will the new candidate, who was not on anybody’s
shortlist for the position, be able to reinvent the World Bank?

The current process, in which the US and European Continue reading

Its a question of what passport do you have

I think this year is quite a significant year for international diplomacy and global development. I say that If only because its the first time ever we have a woman, and an African, to ever be nominated to head any major international institution; the position of President of the World Bank Group.  True, the usual international hypocrisy will most likely not pick her for the position despite her impeccable credentials and because she does not have the “right passport” , never the less, I think its worth taking a closer look at this woman and her background:

Closing of Nominations for President of World Bank

Ocampo got nominated after all. Here is a press release from the World Bank:

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2012 – The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank confirmed today that, as announced on February 17, the period for submitting nominations for the position of the next President of the World Bank closed on Friday, March 23. The Board is pleased to announce that the following three nominees will be considered for the position:

Jim Yong Kim, a US national and President of Dartmouth College, New Hampshire

José Antonio Ocampo, a Colombian national and Professor at Columbia University, New York

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian national and Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Nigeria Continue reading

Nomination day – 2, 3 or 4 way race?

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

Sachs, Ocampo, and Okonjo-Iweala, 2 out of the 3 need to withdraw

In order to give someone from the developing world a real chance to get the top position at the World Bank, two out of the above mentioned three nominees need to withdraw and throw their weight behind the 3rd candidate. That was the opinion of a group of staffers at the World Bank’s headquarters today gathering for lunch. The rational beyond this is obvious of course. The developing countries must unite behind one candidate if they have a chance to make history and break the strangle hold of Europe and the US on the leadership positions in the World Bank and IMF. The only two international institutions that don’t have open competition for the top jobs.
My question is, who are the two that should withdraw?


Finance Ministers of South Africa, Nigeria and Angola call for a news conference

Here is a bit of interesting news: 

“The finance ministers of South Africa, Nigeria and Angola called a news conference for Friday likely to address reports that they are backing Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to become President of the World Bank.

“The Finance Ministers of Angola, Nigeria and South Africa are meeting in Pretoria tomorrow,” a statement from South Africa’s Treasury said, without giving details of the agenda. ”

More here 

“The ideal nominee for World Bank president”

An interesting blog by Felix Salmon of Reuters arguing that the nomination of Ngozi and Ocampo means that the White House should try to convince Hillary Clinton to accept to be  nominated, at least until the US election season is over.

Here is how he puts it: “This really puts the pressure on the White House to knock it out of the park with their nomination, because Ngozi, in particular, is broadly regarded both within and outside the Bank as being pretty much perfect for the job. She’s a whip-smart economist, she’s honest, she’s imaginative, she’s dedicated, she’s expert at navigating the Bank’s labyrinthine bureaucracy and politics, and she’s passionate about the way that the Bank can really make the world a better place.”

Adding: “If Hillary is nominated, the job is hers: it’s as simple as that. And she would be very good at it, too. She wouldn’t even need to serve out a full term. While she had the job, she might even be able to engineer a way in which she could be succeeded by Ngozi, or some other highly-qualified candidate without a US passport. Which alone would make her one of the most important and revolutionary presidents in the Bank’s history.” 

Which begs the question, how about creating a “Deputy President” position occupied by a non-American?

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

The Process is Forever Changed, for the Better

In the wake of Jeffrey Sachs’ unprecedented open candidacy for World Bank president comes important news that developing country economists may also join the race: former minister of finance for Colombia and former senior UN official José Antonio Ocampo, and Nigerian finance minister and former high level World Bank official Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. (Okonjo-Iweala is denying she will seek the position.) If this happens, in a similarly public way, as it appears it will, this will be a huge and irreversible step forward for World Bank governance reform. It would be a leap closer towards what the World Bank’s members have officially adopted as their preference for choosing the Bank’s leader: an open, merit-based process. A contest, of sorts, between Ocampo and Sachs (and perhaps Okonjo-Iweala) – presumably with developing country support behind them – would be a sea change from the Bank’s past practice of putting the U.S.’ (and the Global North’s) interests first in selecting presidents, with developing countries excluded. The succession this time is far different than in 2005, for example, when the Bush administration simply declared that Paul Wolfowitz would helm the Bank, to howls of protest but no known alternative nominees.

Continue reading