A surprise nomination….but who is he?

So it was either going to be Hilary Clinton or the neoliberal Lawrence Summers, or “Millennium Village-man” Jeffrey Sachs or some US citizen with strong political connections, as it has been in the past…

Now heard comes the biggest bomb dropped by Barack Obama. He’s nominating a certain Dr. Jim Yong Kim as the next World Bank President. Who is he? Unlike any of the predecessors of the Bank and the current President, Kim is not a financial-trained person nor an economist (nor politician like McNamara or Wolfowitz). He’s a <a href=”http://www.dartmouth.edu/%7Epresident/bio/”>physician and an anthropologist by academic background. Ok, also former head of the Department of HIV/AIDS at the World Health Organization (WHO) (not head of the WHO). WHO is of course an International Organisation (IO) related to development.

It’s definitely a bombshell. Ok, based on the Guardian report, Kim is a US citizen (no political suicide for Obama as Nancy Birdsall pointed out here). South Korean background–nice touch taking a citizen of an OECD and East Asian country. But that’s it. As pointed out, he has no financial background (well Wolfowitz was more a politician[1]) which the Bank has needed and needs. I haven’t done all research, but I would wager Kim’s name is not well known in the development or global economic community. Ok, HIV/AIDS is important, fine…

But who is this guy? Will he be the right President?


Professor Catherine “Kate” Weaver runs the question deeper here.

CGD’s Lant Prichett argues that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a better choice. (The World Bank has stated that three candidates have been nominated.

In opposition, another CGD staff member, Vijaya Ramachandran, argues that Kim could be a good choice.

Another CGD guy, Charles Kenny, weighs in on the issue with a yes and no tone.

From Kate Weaver’s article, Kevin P. Gallagher shows his support for José Antonio Ocampo.

[1] Slight correction see list of past Bank Presidents John McCloy was a lawyer and much of a politician, Barber Conable was fully a legislator but also a lawyer before hand. If Kim is selected, he will be the first President not only without a financial or economics background, but without legal or political experience.


This entry was posted in Posts, World Bank and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A surprise nomination….but who is he?

  1. I think it is about time the World Bank has someone from a more social science background running it. Anthropology is often the best discipline through which to understand human beings, culture and society and what will ultimately benefit people the most. This is because unlike economics which is a reductionist science, it tries to look at the world both locally and holistically and always historically. This nomination is a good thing regardless of Kim’s relative lack of celebrity.

  2. Nice view. I do agree that anthropologists have much to offer in terms of development–I’ve interviewed one myself.

    That said, it’s about the institution he’s going to lead. The Bank is mostly economic and financial in terms of resources (the supply-side). How is he going to quickly manage IBRD work? Or more importantly, address the IDA replenishment process in the future?

    I don’t like Bill Easterly, but he touched on this point–“You have to have the mind-set to allocate scarce funds, rather than approaching the problem as if we have unlimited resources for suffering people” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/the-pros-and-cons-of-having-a-doctor-run-the-world-bank/2012/03/23/gIQAj2JtVS_blog.html)

  3. That’s not going to qualify him or solve world poverty

  4. No it’s not, but the popular appeal could do a lot for the image of the world bank. Let’s face it, he would not be making decisions in isolation and I don’t necessarily agree with the usefulness or correctness if an institution like the world bank, but objectively speaking, from the WB point of view, with it’s tarnished global reputation and increasing talk of its possible approaching obsoleteness, it is not hard to see how choosing a ‘character’ rather than a technocrat of any sorts may well appeal to it.

  5. Very true, but he is going to be the head. Otherwise, the VP for CFP and all the VPs and managers will have tough time explaining stuff to him.

  6. Not that this is exactly parallel, but George W Bush junior was in charge of the biggest world power (at the time) for 8 years and he could barely explain anything to himself.

  7. Not that this is exactly parallel, but George W Bush was the head of the world’s biggest superpower (at the time) for 8 years and he could barely explain anything to himself

  8. Trouble is, no one sets prerequisites for the position of President. In this case, neither has the Bank, but the norm is that is that of a person who ha dived into finance/economics. Wolofowitz even still barely counts, give his long diplomatic career and other private work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s