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?