What are the odds? And where are the Chinese?

We’ve been waiting with bated breath for the odds makers to get active. After all, free-market thinkers tell us that the market always has the best outcomes and sets the right prices. So surely speculation on this blog, and elsewhere in the media, will be wrong and the market will be right. Finally, yesterday, Paddy Power, an Irish bookmaker (betting site), answered the call. Of course they weren’t the only ones; John Cassidy of the New Yorker made up his own odds last weekend. But Paddy Power, with odds set by the frequency of bets, should give us the pulse of the market. Will they be right?

A review of the odds as of 21 Feb:

Larry Summers  4/11
Susan Rice  9/2
Hillary Clinton  9/2
Kemal Dervis  9/1
Tim Geithner  9/1
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala  20/1
Trevor Manuel  20/1
Lula da Silva  20/1
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Calls for developing country candidates growing stronger

With over 2,200 votes on the worldbankpresident.org poll within less than a week of its launch, the demand for developing world candidates has perhaps never been stronger.

Devesh Kapur, who co-authored the official history of the World Bank, calls the nomination process “dreadfully antiquated” in an article for the New Europe Post Online, arguing that the Bank in reality has little choice but to look to the growing emerging-market economies, rather than the indebted West, for resources. But they would then “rightly demand a greater voice in running the Bank”. Kapur lists Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, Ernest Zedillo of Mexico and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria, to name a few, as favoured developing country candidates. But he also doesn’t rule out Hilary Clinton as a credible candidate.

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Getting ready to pick the next World Bank President

Robert Zoellick’s article in Foreign Affairs “Why We Still Need the World Bank” http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/137243/robert-b-zoellick/why-we-still-need-the-world-bank was intended to be a flattering account of the Bank’s achievements during his time as its president.  Correlation is not, of course, causality, but as the World Bank’s Board gets ready to select his successor from a shortlist of three nominees, it’s time to look more closely at what’s missing. Continue reading

The process, and what the World Bank’s Board needs to do first

Although the speculation has already started about possible candidates to replace Robert Zoellick, and he and his surrogates are already trying to reframe his 4 1/2 years at the Bank, it’s important to remember what the process is.

PIMCO’s Mohamed el-Irian, hardly a disinterested observer, rightly points out in a February 17 Washington Post op-ed that whoever is chosen will have more legitimacy if the Board undertakes appropriate due diligence and a transparent, maybe even public process.  Continue reading