Who would be a better president of the World Bank?

I see so many tweets and posts on this question.  None of you know, I suspect.  A few questions:

1. It is widely recognized that the Bank’s board “interferes” in WB activities too much, often meeting two times a week and also pushing through contracts which should be stopped or reexamined.  Who can best stand up to that board when necessary?  Can that be done at all, while keeping the contract-addicted major economic powers still interested in the Bank?

2. The WB is financially fairly dependent on China, which for whatever reason prefers to borrow from the Bank rather than use its reserves to finance projects.  What should a president do if China starts seeing itself as “graduating” from this relationship?  Or what if China falls apart economically?  Will the World Bank end up like the UN, losing some of its talent and being hat in hand, asking for funds?

3. Let’s say the BRICS continue with their plan to set up a separate lending facility, as endorsed recently by Zoellick.  How should a president keep the BRICS interested in the World Bank?  Should the new lending facility be fought, co-opted, subsidized, or whatever?  Competition or collusion?

4. The U.S. President tries to pressure the WB to create projects in Afghanistan or Iraq which the Bank doesn’t really want to do.  Stand up to the President, fold, or meet him halfway?  How should project demands involving the West Bank be finessed?

Maybe, maybe, maybe — if you knew the major candidates well — you could have some sense who would perform better at those tasks.  And at about fifty others.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

It is hard to predict how any particular candidate would do.  We do know who is likely to get the job.  We don’t know what it is like to have a non-American facing those kinds of problems.

Addendum: Chris Blattman comments.


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