Is the Tide Turning in favor of the Ngozi Nomination?

US World Bank nominee under fire over book By Robin Harding, Financial Times:

Jim Yong Kim, the US nominee to head the World Bank, is coming under fire over a book he co-authored that criticises "neoliberalism" and "corporate-led economic growth",  arguing that in many cases they had made the middle classes and the poor in developing countries worse off.

Little is known about his views on economic policy because his background is in health. But if he cannot set out a strong vision for how the World Bank will fuel growth, it may boost the campaigns of heavyweight rivals such as Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian finance minister and former World Bank managing director.

What should the World Bank be? By Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

Rubin writes that the Kim nomination portends a shrinking role in global finance for the World Bank, which would become less a Bank and more a World Development Agency. She draws on Acemoglu and Robinson’s new book, Why Nations Fail to comment:

If you want societies to get out of poverty it’s not going to be billions in water reclamation projects that do the trick. Rather, you want “property rights, contract enforcement, ease of starting new companies, competitive markets, and freedom for citizens to enter the occupation and the industry of their choice.” Giving billions to despotic and corrupt regimes may actually set back progress.

See also: Isobel Coleman at the Council on Foreign Relations Jim Yong Kim and the World Bank’s Changing Role

Obama Has Made a Mess of the World Bank Succession By Clive Crook, Bloomberg:

At the top of the bank I expect that Kim would soon learn, if he hasn’t already, that market-driven economic growth is the only basis for lasting success against poverty and the disease and environmental degradation that go with it. Growth might not be a sufficient condition for social progress, but it’s certainly a necessary one (notwithstanding Cuba, where “Dying for Growth” finds much to admire). Nobody who questions this should be running the World Bank.

One of the other candidates in contention for the job is Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. She’s a two-time minister of finance in Nigeria, where by all accounts she acquitted herself with distinction. She has also worked as a senior manager at the bank, so she knows what needs mending. You could argue she’s too much of an insider to be radical -- in advance, who knows? But on paper, at least, her qualifications are far better than Kim’s.

Obama Made the Wrong World Bank Call By Edward Luce, Financial Times

Dr Kim’s nomination was heavily influenced by Hillary Clinton, who rightly admires his grassroots work on Aids and other diseases. Of course it is critically important to fight them. But disease does not spread in a vacuum. Development is a complicated business. Yet healthcare is the prism through which Washington increasingly approaches it. Consider this: the US pledged $4.1bn for the latest replenishment of the International Development Association, the World Bank’s soft-loan arm for the poorest countries. It pledged almost exactly the same amount – $4bn – to the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Putting a healthcare specialist in charge of the World Bank would reinforce America’s focus on what some in the developing world dismiss as “the fashionable diseases”. It is the unfashionable illnesses, such as diarrhoea, that claim the most lives.

The right leader for the World Bank Editorial, Financial Times

This newspaper has acknowledged that, were Mr Kim to be selected, he could be a good choice. His background in health fits well with the Bank’s broader development goals, while his managerial record at the World Health Organisation shows that he could be effective at implementing these aims.

But the Bank needs more than this. Its new leader should have a command of macroeconomics, the respect of leaders of both the funding and the funded countries, and the management skills to implement his or her vision. These requirements make Ms Okonjo-Iweala the best person for the role.

My vision for World Bank – Okonjo-Iweala  by Oscarline Onwuemenyi, Nigeria’s Vanguard

The Nigerian candidate herself says:

There are many emerging market countries that are very supportive of my candidacy and many of them feel that the World Bank is ready for someone who understands the challenges of emerging economies and of developing countries, and can totally focus on expanding opportunities for growth and development using practical financial tools to create growth.