Jim Kim

There is huge enthusiasm in Washington this morning, and no small measure of surprise.

A World Bank president nominee with a sense of humor and who mixes with his stakeholders.  After seven years of social awkwardness, Jim Kim’s ability to ‘mix it up’, as demonstrated in this “Dartmouth Idol” video, will be a welcome change.

A Korean-born physician and pioneer in the treatment of HIV, AIDS and tuberculosis, Kim has the breadth of experience on development issues needed to carry out the financial institution’s anti-poverty mission. He brings service in a large international organization (WHO), work on global public goods (health/HIV-AIDS), activism (health care delivery for the poor), getting results (health care delivery, in the US context) and an evidence-based discipline (medicine and public health). As president of Dartmouth, a small Ivy League college, he is used to managing university professors, a strongly needed skill, and fundraising, always useful for the World Bank.

He also seems to be an Obama donor, but unlike political insiders, former politicians (successful or not), commercial bank presidents or self-made rich men US presidents have anointed before, Kim seems to meet the leadership, experience and results qualifications the owners of the World Bank have set for their decision-making criteria.

Unlike the other names, American and non-American, on the lists that have been floated since Robert Zoellick confirmed his departure two months ago, Kim brings no internal or external baggage from the development set (Sachs, Easterly, ex-Bank chief economists, NGOs, CSOs, Bank staff).  But stories will surely surface.

As the executive directors review the nominations for their upcoming ‘open, transparent and merit-based selection’, they will no doubt look at what everyone brings to the job, and how they can refashion how they behave to make Zoellick’s successor a success for global development and for the World Bank.

6 thoughts on “Jim Kim

  1. As a retired Bank staffer, I think it is a very credible and innovative nomination…I’m impressed and excited for the organization.

  2. Maybe “enthusiasm” is not the best word. It depends on whether you’re a practitioner or a scholar of development, or a publicist/journalist who missed the signals.

    A few other words that come to mind are
    – ‘optimism’ that the World Bank is still important to the US Executive Branch
    – ‘relief’ that its nominee is not Larry Summers
    – ‘vindication’ that it’s not Jeff Sachs, either
    – ‘amazement’ it’s someone no one thought of (or, outside academia, research, medicine and global health, few had heard of)
    – ‘impatience’ that the sniping about the US feeling it must make a nomination
    – ‘reassurance’ that the major shareholder’s views are still important and that the Americans must not go hide in a dark corner while continuing to write checks for IDA
    – ‘realism’ that the US is still the major shareholder, and must have done its due diligence with G8 and G20 shareholders before the announcement
    – ‘admiration’ that someone manageed to clean up Jim Kim’s Wikipedia entry before the Rose Garden announcement was made
    – ‘happiness’ that nominees of merit are being proposed, for a merit-based process, that will soon be over the development world can go back to work
    – ‘affirmation’ that a person of color, an immigrant to Iowa as a child, is tapped for the job

    That may all add up to ‘enthusiasm’ in some parts of Washington, but it’s certainly not ‘meh’.

  3. Hi Lawrence. Thanks for your reply, but I want to emphasise that worldbankpresident.org is an open platform for those interested in the World Bank presidential selection process, and does not have a singular view. Voice of Reason is a regular contributor, but these are his own views. Please feel free to post your own views on Kim’s nomination. If you go to the ‘About’ section of the home page there are instructions on how you can contribute. Thanks.

  4. “There is huge enthusiasm in Washington this morning..” ? !!!!!!

    I am not sure which Washington you are in but you are certainly not in the Washington I am in and diffidently not at the world bank.

  5. Huh? Has “Voice of Reason” abandoned all reason? Just becasue Jim Kim is not Larry Summers those who want to see the World Bank become a more effective institution should celebrate this U.S. nomination? I expected a more measured response from WorldBankPresident.org. Surely the appropriate thing now is to urge countries to carefully examine the credentials of all nominees, and then vote without regard to passports. Unlikely? Perhaps. But then why bother to campaign for an open and competitive selection process.

  6. As an Executive Director of the World Bank that had no problem whatsoever participating with guitar and harmonica in a Celebration of Cultures event, I have absolutely no problem with Jim Yong Kim singing, much the contrary. That said, until further notice I remain in full support of the candidacy of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala… and, just in case, not because of her singing which I haven’t heard!

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