Early Morning Open Thread: Global Financeering

Well, here’s a new extremely political campaign for the horse-race addicts to worrit. The World Bank, “an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programs”, will be choosing a new president in June. All former WB presidents have been Americans, because of the Golden Rule: Those that have the gold, make the rules. Felix Salmon, Reuter‘s finance blogger, reports that this year’s race is different:

Lesley Wroughton has the wonderful news: two very highly qualified non-American candidates — Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Jose Antonio Ocampo — are going to be nominated to be president of the World Bank. This really puts the pressure on the White House to knock it out of the park with their nomination, because Ngozi, in particular, is broadly regarded both within and outside the Bank as being pretty much perfect for the job. She’s a whip-smart economist, she’s honest, she’s imaginative, she’s dedicated, she’s expert at navigating the Bank’s labyrinthine bureaucracy and politics, and she’s passionate about the way that the Bank can really make the world a better place…
Now that Ngozi’s in the running, the US is going to find it incredibly difficult to nominate a relatively low-profile person like Susan Rice, because it’s almost impossible to make a credible case that Rice is a superior candidate to Ngozi on the merits. And other big names seem to be falling away:

U.S. Senator John Kerry and PepsiCo’s Indian-born CEO Indra Nooyi also made an Obama administration shortlist, according to a source, although Kerry has publicly ruled out the job and Nooyi is no longer in contention, according to another source.

This is really bad news, because by a process of elimination it more or less forces Obama to go with Larry Summers. Larry would be a dreadful nominee, and a worse president, in a job whose primary prerequisite is diplomacy. And before he’s even nominated, there’s already a website up, ForgetLarry.org, devoted to campaigning against him for the job. It covers pretty much all the bases, although it weirdly misses the Russia/Shleifer scandal: for that, check out Cathy O’Neil’s post from a couple of weeks ago.
I’ve talked to a fair number of people about this position, including a few who are quite sympathetic to Larry, and not one of them thinks that he would be good in the post. If the US forced the world to choose between Larry and Ngozi, it would have to expend an astonishing amount of diplomatic capital to twist the requisite number of arms to get him the job, just because no one would actually want to vote for him. Their hearts would be with Ngozi…

I certainly don’t know enough about international economics to judge anybody’s fitness, but I do know enough recent history to agree that Larry Summers should not be considered for any position other than ‘premiere test subject in the Soylent Green factory’. (I can’t be the only person planning never to forgive Summers for his ‘thought experiment’ suggesting that toxic industries should be shipped to “less developed countries”, where life and the environment were cheap.) Felix Salmon’s suggestion for the ideal candidate, on the other hand, is going to enrage a certain portion of the Obama Administration’s self-described base. Anybody with a better grasp of the topic want to help the rest of us understand?

And what else is on the agenda for the end of another workweek?

70 replies
  1. 1
    freelancer says:

    And what else is on the agenda for the end of another workweek?

    Laundry and taxes. Ben Franklin was way off about there only being two certainties in life. There’s at least the three. Maybe I’ll add to my sunburn in the interim.

  2. 2
    piratedan says:

    ummm, how about we simply support Ngozi if she’s brilliant and capable of running the bank? Unless she has an axe to grind with the US and after all, it is the WORLD BANK, maybe it is time to let the world have a say in their own financial affairs? My apologies for my own naivete on the subject.

  3. 3
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    This was exactly my still-half-asleep early-morning reaction. Absent evidence to the contrary, Ngozi sounds ideal. Why wouldn’t we support her?

    (yeah yeah i know usa usa usa we’re number one)

  4. 4
    NotMax says:

    The good news is that Bob Zoellick’s term is up and he is leaving.

    Though, optimistically, the years almost must have made him somewhat less of a sanctimonious jingoist prig and knee-jerk Goldwaterite zombie than he was when he roomed a few doors down from me back in college.

  5. 5
    WereBear says:

    I’m with you, Anne Laurie: why should we forgive Summers, anything? And while we are on the subject… what brilliance? I don’t see it.

    What a quaint concept; giving the job to someone who is the most qualified. Oh my sides!

  6. 6
    Ben Wolf says:

    It simply won’t matter much who becomes president because the World Bank isn’t controlled by the president, it is controlled by national central banks and the countries which “contribute” the most funding to it. The presidency is primarilly a status position for those who want more for CV-padding purposes and opportunities to make the international connections to make themselves much wealthier; no matter who they choose the institution itself will remain neo-liberal to the core. Ben Bernanke will have more say over what the WB actually does than any president will.

  7. 7
    PeakVT says:

    Ngozi sounds like a good candidate, but as long as it’s not Larry or Timmy I’ll be satisfied.

    If anyone ever wondered where all the shipbreaking yards that people take photos of are located, I’ve made a map of the major ones and a bunch of others as well.

  8. 8
    Egypt Steve says:

    Larry won’t make suitable Soylent Green, because


  9. 9
    jeffreyw says:

    We are tearing out front and side wooden decks, pouring concrete as a replacement. There will be new walks from the detached garage to the decks, a walk to the front “porch” will be a straight shot with no steps up or down to ease passage of wheeled conveyances. Hoping to get that portion finished before Mrs J returns.

  10. 10
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Everything I’ve read about Summers indicates that he’s a superb bureaucratic infighter, but not much of a diplomat.

  11. 11
    Raven says:

    @jeffreyw: I’m in the middle of a huge brush clearing project in our back yards. Two days of tractor $$$!

  12. 12
    Triassic Sands says:

    It goes without saying that if an American is not chosen to be the next World Bank president, then the US should cut off all funding to the UN, kick the UN out of the US, and invade Iran (and maybe any country that voted against the American candidate for president of the WB). The rules are the rules.

  13. 13
    jeffreyw says:

    @Raven: LOL! They grow up so fast…

  14. 14
    amk says:

    From previous thread title

    Pointless horserace navel gazing.

    In an election year, Obama isn’t going to walk into a buzz-saw with his eyes open. It’s going to be an american and most likely with a ws background.

  15. 15
  16. 16
    WereBear says:

    BTW, I loved that Tale of Banana the cat, “The Life Sausage” a poster put up a while back. Thanks, whoever you are. Google cannot find where I got it from… what good are they?

  17. 17
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    @jeffreyw: With Tunch on your mug staring down at it. Eat it fast!

  18. 18
    Mino says:

    What? it’s not John Bolton?

  19. 19
    MonkeyBoy says:

    Hillary Clinton has denied that she is seeking the World Bank job though I don’t recall her saying she would refuse a draft.

    She would be good, not so much as an economist, but from her excellent international politics and woman’s rights perspective.

    I can’t really see a reason for her to leave her State position, unless it is to shuffle someone new into the administration to run in 2016.

  20. 20
    jeffreyw says:

    @Cheryl from Maryland: Tunch adds a nice touch to the table layout, I think.

  21. 21
    Phylllis says:

    Off to DC early tomorrow morning for a conference that starts Sunday. I’m going a day early to get in street-wandering time. My flight leaves at 7:55 tomorrow morning & I’ll need to leave the house by about 5:45 to get to the airport. I picked that because I’ll be in DC proper by 10:30 or so. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now that getting up at O:darkthirty is looming, I’m wondering what I was thinking.

  22. 22
    burnspbesq says:


    The deal has always been that the head of the World Bank would be an American, and the head of the IMF would be a non-American. Nooyi would have been an excellent choice, but she appears to be out of the running. Summers has the technical skills, but arguably lacks the people skills. Why not Christina Romer?

  23. 23
    dr. bloor says:

    @Egypt Steve:

    Well played, indeed.

    Ngozi seems ideal except for the inevitable hurricane of “ZOMG OBAMA LOST US THE WORLD BANKZ!” that would follow from the Wurlitzer.

  24. 24
    uri says:

    Is K-Thug busy?

  25. 25
    Original Lee says:

    What about Mary Schapiro? Global banking reform nowadays is as much about securities and securitization as it is about “traditional” banking.

  26. 26
    Anya says:

    The President could always appoint Simon Johnson or Jeffrey Sachs.

  27. 27
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @uri: World Bank Prezzing doesn’t really require economisting. It is more of a diplomatic job; Kthug is not, IMO, suitable. Besides, I think he is doing a very good job right where he is. Imagine the intellectual desert that the NYT OP-Ed page would start to be without him.

  28. 28
    Valdivia says:


    more or less what you said. It has to be an American simply because it is an election year and he would be breaking tradition if he supported the ‘foreigner’. Can you imagine how much fodder this would be come to the apologize for America meme and how the media would run with it?

    I wonder why they don’t mention Christy Roemmer? I love her and think she would be the awesome. Maybe not high wattage enough in the been in politics dept but she served this administration and has a great econ background.

  29. 29
    amk says:

    @Original Lee: She would be a good pick.

  30. 30
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    The deal has always been that the head of the World Bank would be an American, and the head of the IMF would be a non-American.

    Historically that is the case, but “the deal”? Was there some kind of agreement, either formal and public — or maybe a secret handshake in a smoke-filled Bretton Woods back room? Is it in the UN Charter somewhere? Maybe I’m being incredibly dense, but I don’t see why the US wouldn’t willingly support the candidacy of a really well-qualified person who happens to be a citizen of another country, just because “well, we’ve never done it before.”

  31. 31
    MikeJ says:

    Why not Zoidberg?

  32. 32
    Valdivia says:


    Sorry but Johnson would be a mistake of epic proportions. He likes to style himself a wise man but he is totally prone to the hubris that makes economist always be sure that they see the future. He was one of the loudest voices in the 80s and 90s telling Latin American countries from his job in the Bank to privatize and restructure their economies. He was wrong. Then he turns around like he wasn’t part of that and becomes a pundit yelling about how we need to nationalize our banks–he was also wrong about that. So just because he writes pieces that seem to favor the progressive consensus these last few years (and usually the emo-prog wing of it) doesn’t mean he would be an inspired choice.

    Sachs is a different thing. He would be very good but I don’t think he will be the person nominated.

  33. 33
    Tom D says:

    How about Brooksley Born, the woman that warned congress in 1998 about the dangers of not regulating the derivatives market. The things she said would happen did happen. Of course unsupported by Pres. Clinton (who had appointed her to the CFTC) she resigned when congress plugged their fingers in their ears and said “we can’t hear you”.
    Sadly, no one that can’t be controlled by the corporatocracy will even be considered.

  34. 34
    Valdivia says:


    make sure you walk by the tidal basin and get in the Cherry Blossoms at their best.

  35. 35
    liberal says:


    Sachs is a different thing.

    No he’s not. He was involved in the disastrous privatization of assets after the fall of Communism.

  36. 36
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Politically speaking, in an election year where the GOP is going to be attacking Obama as anti-American (stupid, I know, but there you have it), altering that informal arrangement is probably not going to happen.

  37. 37
    Valdivia says:


    but he came out and did a huge mea culpa. He accepted his role instead of sweeping it under the table. Part of his career since then has been about atoning for that.

  38. 38
    Yevgraf says:

    OT – If you want to see a display of conservatism that’s florid with every nasty conservative dysfunction, check out this FR thread on Allen West’s condemnation of the Martin shooting. All the Jeeter Lester rationales about deaths of black folks, open racism, police excuse making, you name it.



  39. 39
    Anya says:

    @Valdivia: But this implies that people don’t change and don’t learn from their past mistakes. The WB messes up Africa a lot, so it would benefit from someone who’s an expert in crisis prevention, and economic growth. I don’t see why it’s a bad thing that Johnson constantly yells about how Wall Street wrecked the economy and how we need to regulate these institutions.

  40. 40
    the fugitive uterus says:

    if somebody like Paul Wolfowitz can become the president of the World Bank, then Larry Summers would be the perfect choice!

  41. 41
    Mino says:

    @Yevgraf: I’ve heard a lot of comment on the Stand Your Ground Law and everyone is skirting the fact that it gives cover to racist cops to let white perps walk.

  42. 42
    Valdivia says:


    one thing is yelling and another thing is stubbronly insisting that you know better in terms of policy solutions that have been wrong time and again and breezily ignoring it. He gave the most hair on fire of warnings about how the banking industry would collapse anyway if we didn’t nationalize and accused Obama of being negligent for not doing that and yet, the banking solution worked pretty well in terms of not sinking the country down further into depression. If you want someone who castigates the 1% and yet is a great economist and knows when he has been wrong Krugman would be the guy. Johnson? Not so much.

    I think there is confusion about what this job entails, it is not to be chief emo yeller for our policy preferences. It takes a diplomatic hand Johnson doesn’t have that. Also he isn’t as smart as he thinks he is, just the go to guy these days. There are much much smarter economists out there who are just as critical of globalization and wall street and yet have a little humility on what economics as a discipline can accomplish.

  43. 43
    Yevgraf says:


    As Jeeter Lester said in Tobacco Road, after recklessly driving into a black man’s cart and killing him:

    “Sometimes niggers die and there ain’t nothin’ anybody can do about it.”

    He said it sadly as they drove off, leaving the body laying in the road.

    This is modern conservatism – the model they adopted.

  44. 44
    Lex says:

    @Mino: Wait, John Bolton is sitting on Cole’s lap? I’m confused.

    Back on topic, I can’t think of any American to nominate who wouldn’t be just one more economic hit man (gender-specific noun intentional; no way Hillary or any other woman gets the nod). Go with Ngozi; she might be great and we could hardly do worse.

  45. 45
    liberal says:

    I don’t care. His actions re Eastern Europe help lead to the immiseration of millions of people. Why should he get a second chance?

  46. 46
    liberal says:


    …the banking solution worked pretty well in terms of not sinking the country down further into depression.

    That’s setting the bar pretty low.

    The banking “solution” has certainly done very little to really fix the underlying flawed structure of the financial system. Saying “we avoided complete collapse” isn’t the right standard.

  47. 47
    Mino says:

    Hey, what about one of the Venezuela team that helped South American countries restore their economies after the WB’s theft of their resources?

  48. 48
    Valdivia says:


    did I say that was the standard? or even Johnson’s? I was addressing Johnson’s core point that the banking sector would explode and drag us into the depression unless we nationalized. Since this was his argument and it was wrong I would expect him to even acknowledge that he was but nary a peep.

    I would have liked to have seen many more things done to structurally change how wall street operates but that wasn’t the argument I was making. My point which is limited is that Johnson is the wrong person because he pretends, like all economists do, that he knows best and he when doesn’t he moves on to be totally right again on another subject without regard for the consequences of his wrongness.

    You seem to want o have a different discussion but none of my points are about how best to fix the system.

  49. 49
    PurpleGirl says:

    Larry Summers would be a terrible choice; he has been failing upwards for years. It’s time he was shunned and taken out of public life. He could live well for many years and it’s time he began a new life — as a totally private citizen.

  50. 50
    Mino says:

    Interesting article on Stiglitz, former head WB economist and now a defector. From the Minneapolis Star-Tibune.


    Not much chance of his appointment.

  51. 51
    Baud says:

    Just crossed my twitter:

    Breaking: The White House plans to nominate Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim to head the World Bank.

    ETA: Brownie points to the first person to find a wingnut comment about how Obama named North Korea’s dictator to the World Bank.

  52. 52
    JPL says:

    And the winner is Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim

    The Korean-born Kim is a physician by training and a prominent figure in global health and development circles. Officials believe his experience will help counter criticism from developing countries that have grown weary of the U.S. stranglehold on the World Bank presidency.

    Must credit TPM livewire

  53. 53
    Valdivia says:


    beat me to it.
    Great choice I think. Love when he throws a curve ball!

  54. 54
    amk says:

    @Baud: Dang. I posted this in the wrong thread.

  55. 55
    Mino says:

    Federal judge prods FDA to finally act to remove antibiotics from animal feeds. Perhaps that will improve husbandry, too.

  56. 56
    Valdivia says:


    I missed that you were the firstist. :)
    I am sure very soon we will hear how he is not a real american.

  57. 57
    Baud says:

    @Valdivia: No sweat. The important thing is that the nom seems at first blush like a good one.

  58. 58
    Collin says:

    The Christian fanatics have been saying for many years that signs of their apocalypse are happening. But the closest there’s been to a miracle is the Arab Spring, which goes against their prophecy. So what did they do to minimize the impact of the Arab Spring on their agenda? It’s obvious considering what we now think of the Arab Spring as — the “inspiration” for the Occupy movements.

    Everyone’s arguing whether Occupy is a worthy public response to global injustice, but nobody seems to question the assumption that it came from the public in the first place. The image of a tyrannical police force brutalizing a helpless proletariat seems unforgeable. But it isn’t. There’s one organization that could easily pull it off — Opus Dei. They routinely brutalize themselves and each other, so they’d have no problem putting on a show of cops and Occupiers.

    So we have people claiming to be the 99%. We know they aren’t, but we can’t argue with them because they’ve been brutalized. Or can we? There are real tragedies happening all the time, most recently the shooting of Trayvon Martin. We shouldn’t be caring about the fake tragedies staged by the racist, elithiocratic wolves of Occupy.

  59. 59
    handsmile says:

    Nominating a college president and physician to head the World Bank is more than just a “curve ball,” it’s beyond the realm of sports metaphors. Quite an astonishing choice.

    Like thousands of others right now, I’ve headed to Kim’s Wikipedia page to learn something about him. This excerpt may signal the direction (global health) that the Obama administration would like the World Bank to establish leadership:

    Over the past few years, Kim has been involved in the development of a new field focused on improving the implementation and delivery of global health interventions. He believes that progress in developing more effective global health programs has been hindered by the paucity of large-scale systematic approaches to improving program design. This new field will rigorously gather, analyze, and widely disseminate a comprehensive body of practical, actionable insights on effective global health delivery.

  60. 60
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Damn, that place is a sewer.

    They’ve invented entirely new sets of facts to bolster their racism over there.

    Allen West has been formally written off as another ni*CLANG* by the scum of FreeRepublic.

  61. 61
    Phyllis says:

    @Valdivia: I’m taking hubby’s fancy 35 mm digital Nikon for photos. I was there a couple of years ago when they were in full bloom and it truly is a sight to behold.

  62. 62
    burnspbesq says:


    Interesting that one of the first people to weigh in with support for Dr. Kim is Rwandan President Kagame.


  63. 63
    coin operated replicant says:

    @Valdivia: Agree, and that was one hell of a perfectly placed curve ball, too.

  64. 64
    gex says:

    Although, we should all agree that it would be best if they don’t select a woman. All those numbers hurt our tiny widdle brains you know.

  65. 65
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Kim has a good and working knowledge of global information systems and will bring that to the table

    Then again, college presidents are immediately suspect because their main job is fundraising

  66. 66
    Comrade Mary says:

    @WereBear: Hey, glad you liked it. I highly recommend keeping track of Watts’ blog in general as the man is living an EPIC life: marine biologist turned SF writer who is in some ways living in his own personal dystopia (or lumpy Life Sausage). Just in the past couple of years he’s been beaten down by US border guards (and banned from your country), and he’s survived flesh-eating disease. But he also got married in the past year, so it’s nice to see things looking up for him.

  67. 67
    Comrade Mary says:

    Dr. Kim is also a co-founder of Partners in Health. They sent me a very proud email message about his appointment this morning. Web version.

    But did you also know Dr. Kim was a rapping robot spaceman?

    EDIT: changed to YouTube link at correct starting point

  68. 68
    smintheus says:

    @Comrade Mary: Kim was a classmate at college. He always struck me as flamboyant.

  69. 69
    David Koch says:

    @smintheus: didn’t you used to blog at GOS?

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