The World Bank reappointment process

Kim had been a lame duck for some while, and few outsiders grasp how active is the role of the Board in the World Bank.  So it is probably good they got him out of there sooner rather than later.

I know you’re all aghast that Trump will pick the successor, but remember the good ol’ days when everyone fell apart when Bush picked Paul Wolfowitz, considered to be one of the architects of the Iraq War?  Whatever you think of Wolfowitz and his tenure at the Bank, it was not The End Times or even the beginning of the end.

It is very hard for a bad Bank president to shut down the works.  The World Bank has borrowed a lot of money and to pay it back the Bank needs to make profitable loans.  The mechanism for this to happen is already in place, and short of bankrupting the institution it is hard to imagine how a Bank president can totally gum up the works.  That is also why good Bank presidents find it hard to reform the place.

It is trendy to call for a “meritocratic” approach to this appointment and who could be opposed to that?  That said, there are plenty of plausible candidates ex ante, but it is not so easy to determine who will be effective ex post.  So if you read someone calling for meritocracy here, odds are they have some other political agenda in mind (which may be fine, but evaluate that agenda on its own terms).  There are plenty of Americans qualified at the highest level for this post.

I think America and yes DT should pick the next Bank president and should pick an American.  How do you think it is going to go the next time the Bank calls for more capital from the US and UK?  Whose certification there do you think is most important?  And which country is the most nervous about the World Bank doing something geopolitically unpopular, as say the UN repeatedly has done?  All this will run most smoothly if the U.S. feels, to some extent, that the Bank is its preserve.  And of course the “we’ve really got to up China’s quota and get it more involved” days are long since past.

You’re all out there saying Trump should not disengage America from the world, blah blah blah etc.  I agree.  But let’s be honest about what the terms of that engagement were in the first place, and be willing to swallow the whole package deal once again.

Here is some FT analysis, noting that not all of its suggested candidates are good ideas.


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