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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs