With the Friday deadline for an American candidate looming, the grapevine is sprouting new fruit at a rapid rate. The latest rumour adds a little chicenery to the mix, with news that Geithner’s leaked list, which included Susan Rice, Larry Summers and John Kerry, actually had decoy names on it! What sneaky smoke and mirrors by the Treasury Secretary! And his grand plan to befuddle the general public was all so his homeboy Larry Summers could land the World Bank job.
Excuse the flippant tone, but these whispers of high level machinations by schemeing string-pullers in Washington have added a little spice to this story. We were all getting a little bogged down in Sachs to be honest. So, it seems that Larry Summers is the only US candidate at present. It’s been well established that Summers is not exactly Mr Popularity, and a new petition and accompanying website, Larry Summers? Fuggedaboutit!, picks up where many an have left off. The site is a playful reminder of Summers’s past indiscretions, with a section called ‘Let them eat waste’ detailing his absurd proposal to outsource pollution to poor countries. At the same time it is serious in its intent Continue reading →
Amidst all the talk of Jeffrey Sachs’s ‘pick me!’ campaign, Larry Summer’s numerous indiscretions, and the dimming prospect of a BRIC candidate, development consultant Ben Ramalingam offers something a little different. Drawing on work by former Bank staffer and academic David Ellerman he argues that a problem with the Bank is that it has ‘official views’. These views, which the Bank pours energy and resources into coming up with, constitute the Bank’s official line on issues, and become orthodoxies that inhibit genuine learning, country and community ownership, and open dialogue:
adverse opinions and critical reasoning tend to give way to authority, rules and bureaucratic reasoning shaped by the hierarchies within the organisation. Moreover, these Official Views “short-circuit” and bypass the active learning capability of national and local actors, and substitute the authority of external agencies in its place Continue reading →
As the White House keeps it lips seeled on who its candidate might be, and pointedly makes no public commitment on the status of the ‘gentlemans agreement’, we’re often left to contemplate the snatches of gossip, conjecture and rumour that trickle forth from DC. Alan Beattie, international economics editor at the Financial Times, is an old Washington-hand, and a well connected fellow. If anyone knows which whispers in Washington are the right ones to listen to, it’s probably him. And his recent article for the FT may be a little deflating for those hoping that this time things will be different. The clue is in the rather unequivocal title, ‘US to keep grip on helm of World Bank’. Continue reading →
An interesting recent article by Environment and Energy Publishing outlines a dilemma for environmentalists advocating for change at the World Bank. Green groups have long-called for a more democratic institution that genuinely addresses both poverty and environmental destruction in developing countries, and have often been prominent in arguing against the archaic convention that sees the US president appoint the Bank’s leader. But, on the other hand many environmentalists acknowledge that any potential candidate from the BRICs may put less of an emphasis on environmental issues than the US. Continue reading →
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 →