News

New World Bank Chief to Face Many Challenges

Dr. Jim Yong Kim is President Obama's choice to lead the World Bank.
Dr. Jim Yong Kim is President Obama's choice to lead the World Bank.
Joe DeCapua

President Obama has nominated Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim to be the next World Bank president. Since 1944, an American citizen has always led the institution. But with the growing strength of emerging economies, more countries want to influence how the World Bank does business.

Dr. Kim is one of three candidates for the World Bank presidency. He’s a doctor and former World Health Organization official. The others are Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo.

However, Fredrik Erixon, director of the Brussels-based European Center for International Political Economy, said the American is the runaway favorite for the post.

“I think it’s already close to a done deal that the White House nominee will take up the post simply because the United States and Europe are probably going to agree on him being the candidate. And that means that he’s going to win. But I think that he, like the other two candidates, should be asked to present what they’d like to do with the World Bank. And they should in particular be asked how they want to reform the World Bank to revitalize its role for economic development,” he said.

Political pressures?

Erixon also said this being a presidential election year it’s very unlikely anyone but an American would become World Bank president.

“(The) United States would have been keen to get an American to head up the World Bank even if it would not have been an election year in the United States. But this year of course they’re going to be even keener to make sure that he is going to win. Because otherwise President Obama will be accused by Republicans of being soft on foreign policy or soft on defending United States interests abroad or a president that only leads from behind,” he said.

The next World Bank leader may face more pressure than past bank presidents.

“We are now at a time when lots of developing countries in the world have continued to increase economic growth at a time when the United States, Europe and other older economic powers, so to speak, have declined. And of course this has again continued to reinforce the larger trend of developing countries being much more influential in global economic policies these days,” said Erixon.

And, he said, they want that influence to extend to the World Bank.

“Now what we’re seeing is lots of developing countries that are asking for a change in the selection process when the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are going to elect new leaders,” he said.

In fact, there was evidence of that last year when Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned as leader of the IMF amid a sex scandal. He was replaced by Christine Lagarde, the former French finance minister.

Emerging economies

The head of the European Center for International Political Economy likens the situation to the rise in influence of G20 nations in relation to the G8.

“Developing countries today represent such a big part of the world economy – that means every time that world leaders need to get together in order to flesh out new policies these countries also need to be at the table. If you look, for instance, at economic growth in 2012, 75 percent of world economic growth is going to come outside ”the old West”—to use that phrase,” he said.

The growth has occurred in both Asian and African countries.

Erixon said, “Having a good understanding about the particular predicaments of developing countries will be even more important in the future than it has been in the past. Because whoever is going to lead the institution, they’re going to be challenged by a landscape of developing countries, which differ from each other much more than they did in the past. What we’ve seen in the past 10 years is extremely rapid economic development in some countries, while we have seen very poor economic development in other countries.”

Hebelieves developing countries will probably call on the next World Bank president to streamline credit and loan procedures and to make the bank less bureaucratic.

“The second thing, he said, “ is to find a good balance between the fast rising countries in East Asia and in some parts of Africa and countries that have not jumped on the band wagon of high economic growth yet. And these types of countries are going to need entirely different help from the World Bank. And finding that balance is going to be a difficult one, but it’s a critical one.”

The successor to outgoing president Robert Zoellick is expected to be announced in time for the World Bank’s spring meeting. It begins April 20th.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs