Why not delay the vote for World Bank President?

Why Bill Easterly believes that all candidates for World Bank President should be given more time to engage in a public debate:

A public forum allows many different minority viewpoints to be heard. Indeed, the backlash against Kim has generated its own backlash. The point of a forum is not to privilege Kim's critics but to let both sides speak. Debates between opposite viewpoints are crucial to any democratic process, preventing "groupthink"; even when the dissidents are wrong, they force those with the right view to make their case. The CGD/Washington Post forum was transparent (the sessions with Okonjo-Iweala and Ocampo were both live-streamed and posted afterwards on the internet). Kim's discussions with global leaders were not transparent.

Imagine a nominee with controversial environmental views or credentials were in the frame to lead America's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It's unlikely the administration would say the nominee was so busy meeting members of Congress behind closed doors that he or she had no time to consult with environmentalists.

Read the entire piece, published this afternoon, in The Guardian.

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Daily Roundup on Kim vs. Ngozi for World Bank President

Could Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala head the World Bank? (ungated) By Lant Pritchett, The Guardian

The candidacy of an African woman, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to lead the World Bank represents a historic opportunity to strengthen the organisation in its mission to attack global poverty. However, the fatalist view is that Okonjo-Iweala cannot win because she is not American. Fortunately, in this case idealism and power politics can align. Okonjo-Iweala can and should win, but it will take effort. Here is a five-stage scenario of how events could play out.

My call for an open, inclusive World Bank (gated) by Jim Yong Kim, Financial Times

My own life and work have led me to believe that inclusive development – investing in human beings – is an economic and moral imperative. I was born in South Korea when it was still recovering from war, with unpaved roads and low levels of literacy. I have seen how integration with the global economy can transform a poor country into one of the most dynamic and prosperous economies in the world. I have seen how investment in infrastructure, schools and health clinics can change lives. And I recognise that economic growth is vital to generate resources for investment in health, education and public goods.

Every country must follow its own path to growth, but our collective mission must be to ensure that a new generation of low and middle-income countries enjoys sustainable economic growth that generates opportunities for all citizens.

U.S.’s World Bank Pick Defends His Credentials (gated) by Sudeep Reddy, Wall Street Journal

Dr. Kim is now on an international “listening tour,” meeting with officials in foreign nations. He has been widely praised by government officials and former colleagues for his experience in launching health programs and his on-the-ground understanding of poverty and development.

But he also has faced criticism from some economists, who say his development experience is too narrow.

New York University development economist William Easterly, a longtime World Bank foe, criticized Dr. Kim in a blog post Sunday for writing in a book 12 years ago that “the quest for growth in GDP and corporate profits has in fact worsened the lives of millions of women and men.”

Dr. Kim’s co-editors say the selected quote missed the overall point of the book, “Dying for Growth,” which is about identifying growth that helps the poor.

In recent days, Mr. Easterly, a staunch defender of free-market economics, has become a leading critic of Dr. Kim. He said in an interview that Dr. Kim’s “anti-globalization point of view” and critique of corporate-led growth put him at odds with the goals of World Bank members.

“All of the members of the World Bank want growth,” he said. “They want global corporations to come invest in their countries. … It’s just kind of odd that he would be now in a position to be a player in that system he’s expressed so much opposition to.”

Defenders of Dr. Kim note that the book, written in the late 1990s, came before heavy international investment in health and education to confront global health problems such as AIDS.

World Bank selection a ‘hypocrisy test’ (gated) by By Xan Rice, Lionel Barber and William Wallis, Financial Times

…[T]here has been a strong push from the emerging world for an open contest to choose a successor to succeed Robert Zoellick, which the main World Bank shareholders say they support. Ms Okonjo-Iweala, backed by African leaders, is one of three candidates vying to take over from Mr Zoellick when his tenure ends in July.

“I would really hold the Bretton Woods shareholders to their word, that they want to change the way business is being done and want a merit-based, open and transparent process for the presidency,” Ms Okonjo-Iweala told the Financial Times.

“I just want to see whether people just say things with their mouth that they don’t mean and what’s the level of hypocrisy,” she said in an interview. “So we want to test that.”

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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.

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