World Bank Fallout

Jim Yong Kim

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

The United States choice to head the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, was selected to be it’s next president. The U.S. nominee has always been selected by unanimous consent before. Its expected.

Not this time. This time was different.

This time Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former Colombian finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo were rejected after a bitter selection battle pitting the developed and the developing nations against each other.

It will leave a bitter aftertaste lasting years.

The Gentleman’s Agreement

Its an unwritten rule that Europe always picks the president of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and that the United States always picks the president of the World Bank (WB).

Its a gentleman’s agreement. The U.S. always supports Europe’s pick for the IMF and Europe always supports the US pick for the WB. Its always been that way. And those selections are always unanimous without a single dissenting vote.

Europe was duty bound to support Kim for president of the WB this time after the U.S. supported Christine Legarde’s selection as president of the IMF after Dominique Strauss-Kahn was ousted in a sex scandal.

The Unheard Voices

Problems with the U.S. choice of Jim Yong Kim surfaced when his qualifications were questioned. Kim has no banking experience. He’s an Ivy League academician and president of Dartmouth College.

Though Kim is experienced in community based health care throughout the developing world, the developing nations felt he would not be the best leader to meet their needs.

To exacerbate the situation the developing countries had two exceptionally well qualified candidates in Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Jose Antonio Ocampo.

So the developing nations – those most affected by the World Bank – saw this as their opportunity to have their voices and their grievances finally heard.

U.S. pick Kim won in the split decision over Okonjo-Iweala. Europe supported Kim. The gentleman’s agreement prevailed.

Once again the developing nations were ignored and manipulated by the developed nations.

It stung deeper this time. This time Okonjo-Iweala openly challenged the selection process and called for reform.

This time the developing nations won’t forget.


This whole controversy would have been avoided if only President Obama had picked a better qualified candidate. He didn’t and everyone in the whole world knows it.

The poor appointment of Kim anyway spotlights that politics and cronyism trump good sense.

The U.S. President’s bad judgement raised divisiveness between the developed and developing nations to a level never seen before.

The ramifications of that will reverberate for years to come.


About azleader

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Posted on Apr 17, 2012, in Barack Obama, culture, Europe, Global Economy, Jim Yong Kim, Life, news, Politics, Thoughts, World Bank and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Is this another example of where the President’s adviser’s are doing a horrible job, or is it the President? I tend to blame the advisers more as the President has millions of things to think about and balance.

    • One of the reasons for Kim’s selection is that Hillary Clinton likes him because of community-based health work in Africa and with the UN. Kim is good in that regard… its just everywhere else he is lacking.

      Imo, though, when the Seccretary of State makes that recommendation it can and should go a long way with the President.

      I think they underestimated the reaction of the developing nations and would have chosen differently if they had known.

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