Getting ready to pick the next World Bank President

Robert Zoellick’s article in Foreign Affairs “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

FT and Bloomberg: Selection is “lacking in legitimacy” and a “stich-up”

Two of the heavyweights in economic journalism have written editorials criticising the convention that sees the US traditionally choosing the World Bank president. The Financial Times and Bloomberg are not commonly known for their strident calls for justice. If anything their stance illustrates quite how absurdly anachronistic the convention looks today.

Bloomberg says that:

That custom has outlived any semblance of propriety. The White House should think again … This cozy arrangement, always lacking in legitimacy, was once defensible as a practical matter. It’s telling that nobody any longer even attempts such a defense. The arrangement is rightly seen as an affront to Brazil, China, India and the other fast-growing developing economies. It’s also inimical to the very idea of international cooperation on terms of mutual respect — and not just for the countries excluded from any say in the matter. Continue reading