Sorry, Larry

Anne Laurie was speculating on the World Bank pick earlier today, and I think it’s good news it wasn’t you-know-who after all:

President Barack Obama startled handicappers by selecting Dartmouth President Jim Yong Kim as the U.S. candidate to lead the World Bank rather than the reported front-runner Larry Summers, Obama’s former National Economic Council director.
The Korean-born Kim is a medical doctor, anthropologist, and MacArthur fellow, best known for his pioneering work to fight HIV and tuberculosis in the Third World. Kim helped develop treatments for drug-resistant TB, and then successfully pushed to reduced the cost of anti-TB drugs. He is close associate of Dr. Paul Farmer, the lead founder of Partners in Health and subject of Tracy Kidder’s 2003 book, Mountains Beyond Mountains.
While Third World leaders had pushed for an alternative to Summers, Kim was a total surprise. The appointment is a two-fer in the sense that it gives the job both to an American and to an Asian, as well as a welcome breakthrough in that the presidency goes to someone with on-the-ground work fighting poverty and disease as opposed to an international dignitary or economist.
Jeffrey Sachs, who audaciously threw his own hat into the ring, can take some credit for this surprise choice, since his own move created some pressure for Obama to think outside the box. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also reportedly favorable to the Kim selection. For Summers, this ends a winning streak of falling upwards.

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107 replies
  1. 1
    gbear says:

    I blame Obama. :)

  2. 2
    pragmatism says:

    the wingnut poutrage machine is already in force. i got 15 “WTF 0bummer nominated an ACADEMIC to head the world bank!” emails.

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    the reported front-runner Larry Summers

    I wonder if it was Mr. Summers who led these “reporters” to believe he was the front-runner.

  4. 4
    Baud says:

    @pragmatism: You need new friends.

  5. 5
    Kay says:

    @pragmatism:

    “WTF 0bummer nominated an ACADEMIC to head the world bank!”

    Well, there’s no pleasing them, because they can’t read:

    with on-the-ground work fighting poverty and disease as opposed to an international dignitary or economist.

    That’s what they’re mad about. The “fighting poverty and disease” part.

  6. 6
    Primigenius says:

    This is an interesting pick. I’m wary of Summers as are many, but if some rudimentary knowledge of economics isn’t required for this position, I guess I’ll go see a plumber the next time I need a TB test.

  7. 7
    Schlemizel says:

    I really have to ask; what the heck prepares one to be head of the world bank? What the heck do they actually do for a living as head of the bank?

  8. 8
    Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor says:

    Don’t know this guy at all, but a good synopsis from Ezra here.

    Fun quote:

    “Why do you call your patients poor people?” Kim’s stock reply: “Okay, how about soon-dead people?”

    I think I like this guy…

  9. 9
    cursorial says:

    I remember seeing him about to fall out of his chair laughing in the video of Conan O’Brian’s commencement address at Dartmouth. Nice to see it go to someone qualified, who also has a sense of humor. I suspect he’ll need it.

  10. 10
    Aaron Baker says:

    “Falling upwards”? Shouldn’t that be “failing upwards”?

  11. 11
    kay says:

    This means there’s an opening for Larry Summers to fight poverty and disease.

    But that would be unfair to the poor and sick, so maybe not that job either.

  12. 12
    Napoleon says:

    @Primigenius:

    Of course economics is not the same thing as banking.

  13. 13
    rlrr says:

    @pragmatism:

    WTF is wrong with academics?

  14. 14
    Samuel Knight says:

    Since Summers was a disaster as President of Harvard, was despised as much as Wolfowitz, just astounding that anyone thought he should even be considered to head the world bank.

    Plus pretty famous as being kinda hard to work with.

  15. 15
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Summers was the Village’s pick.

    The “Conventional Wisdom” of the vermin of the Village is often wrong.

  16. 16
    jl says:

    A good choice. Who knows what will happen to Kim’s agenda after it is put up against some of World Bank customs. But may lead to more emphasis by World Bank on investment in social capital, rather than traditional big international capital investment projects. The World Bank has already moved in the right direction, a little bit at least. Maybe Kim can push it further.

    I have stayed in some posh World Bank ‘investment projects’ while at international meetings. I can see why a certain sort of traveling important type of person (who does not want to wrassal with local traditions in, say, accommodations or bathroom design) would be impressed with them, but too much emphasis on them rather than social investment that addresses local problems that prevent human capital and development (eg, endemic disease, shortage of small capital to locals, or lack of access to education or health services.)

  17. 17
    shortstop says:

    @kay: Snerk!

  18. 18
  19. 19
    kay says:

    @Primigenius:

    This is Ezra Klein:

    Unlike three of the last four World Bank presidents, he’s not a banker. Unlike both of the Bush administration’s picks, he’s not a diplomat or an old foreign policy hand. Unlike every other named candidate for the position — Jeffrey Sachs, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Jose Antonio Ocampo — he’s not an economist or economic policymaker. He is, in other words, a new direction for the World Bank.
    Which fits, because the World Bank’s priorities are changing. As development expert Todd Moss explains, India, one of the bank’s largest fund recipients, is about to grow its way out of the International Development Association, the arm of the bank that primarily serves the world’s poorest countries. A host of others — including Vietnam, Ghana, Nigeria and Mongolia — are scheduled to follow soon after.
    As incomes in these countries rise, they need less help from the bank. So resources will shift to those countries that haven’t been able to take advantage of rising global prosperity. Nearly all of those 30 or so extremely low-income nations are fragile, post-conflict zones in Sub-Saharan Africa. And their needs are substantially different from those of rapidly developing countries like India.

  20. 20
    RyanayR says:

    There’s been worse picks for the World Bank…

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05.....wanted=all

  21. 21
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @gbear:

    Well, obviously this will just ratchet up the poutrage of the vermin of the Village and the wingtards to new heights of cretinous stupid.

  22. 22
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Primigenius:

    A skim of the Wikipedia article on the World Bank leads me to believe that it’s supposed to be focused on development, not economics per se. In fact, a lot of the criticism of the WB seems to be because the Washington Consensus focused too much on the metrics economists love like GDP and not enough on things like roads and clean water that were supposed to be its mission.

    So this nomination sounds like it’s supposed to be a signal that the US is more interested in helping developing countries build infrastructure than in looting their pension funds.

  23. 23
    Martin says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    The “Conventional Wisdom” of the vermin of the Village is often wrong.

    ‘Conventional Wisdom’ is, by definition, either wrong or suspect. Anything outside of that is simply called knowledge and we don’t bother to label it.

  24. 24
    Baud says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    So this nomination sounds like it’s supposed to be a signal that the US is more interested in helping developing countries build infrastructure than in looting their pension funds.

    Good. Countries shouldn’t loot their pension funds until they are much further along in their economic development.

  25. 25
    Cat Lady says:

    I was rooting for Jeffrey Sachs. I like that guy a lot, but it looks like he played a role so yeah, it’s good that there was some out of the box thinking. Maybe Summers can go back to being the scourge of the Winklevii and leave us poor science-challenged women alone.

  26. 26
    Keith says:

    For Summers, this ends a winning streak of falling upwards.

    Tell that to his jowls.

  27. 27
    lamh35 says:

    So for all those who “feared” it would be Larry Summers for even though from my understanding no one from the Admin said it would be, it was just a village meme am I right, will POTUS get any credit from certain spheres of the intertubes for an “out of the box” and yet “kinda perfect” pick?

    Between this and the measured yet pitch-perfect response to the Trayvon Martin question and the shock of these SYC laws…at the very least it should make people realize that elections DO ave consequences!

  28. 28
    kay says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Well, obviously this will just ratchet up the poutrage of the vermin of the Village and the wingtards to new heights of cretinous stupid

    He’s from Iowa, well, since he was 5.

    If they try anything nasty, we can call them coastal elitists who loathe The Heartland.

  29. 29
    gwangung says:

    He’s from Iowa, well, since he was 5.
    __
    If they try anything nasty, we can call them coastal elitists who loathe The Heartland.

    Win!

  30. 30
    PeakVT says:

    @Primigenius: Considering the performance of the economics profession in general over the past decade, I see no compelling reason to put one in charge of anything.

    Also, too: Anthropology AND medicine. That’s a combination of mental frameworks I’d love to upload to my brain.

    @kay: Snort.

  31. 31
    Warren Terra says:

    He seems a bit of an uncertain quantity in terms of dealing with economists, bankers, and global diplomacy – but he certainly sounds like a stellar human being, and I have high hopes.

    I do think this whole discussion should include more comparison to, and opprobrium heaped upon, the appointment of Paul Wolfowitz.

  32. 32
    pragmatism says:

    @Kay: agreed. they just read the headline.
    @rlrr: i asked one of the senders that question. no response yet. i’m guessing the usual “no practical experience” trope. which is easily disproven if they read the article.

  33. 33
    Mnemosyne says:

    @lamh35:

    It helps that Krugman thinks it’s a brilliantly unexpected pick. But the people you’re thinking of have no problem ignoring Krugman when he doesn’t say what they want him to say.

  34. 34
    KG says:

    on topic: no real comment. hopefully it works out.

    tangentially off topic: the phrase “failing upwards” always reminds me of the Kevin Smith speech about getting to rewrite the Superman reboot

  35. 35
    Lawnguylander says:

    So Felix Salmon’s article was crap, then? Is he a Villager?

  36. 36
    Brachiator says:

    So for all those who “feared” it would be Larry Summers for even though from my understanding no one from the Admin said it would be, it was just a village meme am I right, will POTUS get any credit from certain spheres of the intertubes for an “out of the box” and yet “kinda perfect” pick?

    Has Kim been properly vetted by the pearl clutching progressives?

    ETA: Very interestng to see that Krugman applauds the selection.

  37. 37
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Baud:

    Good. Countries shouldn’t loot their pension funds until they are much further along in their economic development.

    I see what you did there.

  38. 38
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Brachiator:

    The pearl divers of poutrage forgot to stick their grains of sand in this particular bank of oysters, so you might want to grab a Snickers bar, this might take a while.

  39. 39
    o kanis says:

    A couple of Summers refreshers

    Larry Summers and the Subversion of Economics
    http://chronicle.com/article/L.....he/124790/

    Harvard and Andrei Shieifer
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A....._in_Russia

    Charlie Rose will have a sad tonight :-(

  40. 40
    Ken says:

    @Mnemosyne: than in looting their pension funds.

    I think that’s supposed to be “establishing fiscal austerity measures to ensure the long-term economic health of the country.” It works out to the same thing but sounds more… economical.

  41. 41
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @Brachiator:

    Has Kim been properly vetted by the pearl clutching progressives?

    I’m not giving FDL the distinct traffic hit but I’m sure others will sniff around to see if the firebaggers have their knickers in an uproar or not.

    @rlrr:

    What’s wrong with academics? They know stuff, all that edumacation and stuff is alien to (un)real ‘Murkins.

    Unless of course they’re “our” academics like Amity Schlaes or Niall Ferguson. Then they know their shit.

  42. 42
    pragmatism says:

    @Baud: the worst part is that most of them came from my family. :(

  43. 43
    PeakVT says:

    @Lawnguylander: No, he was still right that for the bank’s customers a non-Washington-insider would be a better choice. That’s been the main point of his series of posts on the subject. He cited Ngozi as the best of the candidates that people were talking about.

    @lamh35: It wasn’t just a villager meme; Summers wanted the job and was lobbying for it.

  44. 44
    ericblair says:

    @Brachiator:

    Has Kim been properly vetted by the pearl clutching progressives?

    I think the important point is that Obama was going to so totally pick Summers (because you can tell what he’s thinking, you know), but the Prog Front wrote so many outraged blog posts and tweets that Obama just had to back down. So victory.

    Except now we know that he’s just pushing Kim out there to see him fail, so any failure to secure the nomination is Obama’s fault too. And if he does get the nomination, he’s going to be pressured and co-opted by the administration so any deviation from Prog Front desires is Obama’s fault too.

    Personally, this is probably a good direction for the World Bank, but I don’t know anything about the guy really and I don’t know how healthy it would be for yet another American to get the job.

  45. 45
    boss bitch says:

    @Lamh35

    will POTUS get any credit from certain spheres of the intertubes for an “out of the box” and yet “kinda perfect” pick?

    No. Didn’t you see? Jeffrey Sachs gave him the idea.

  46. 46
    jl says:

    The World Bank has always had a mandate for development, rather than financial shenanigans, which is more the IMF’s territory.

    But for a long time the WB believed the economic CW that effective development policies required big investments in big projects that attracted foreign dollars and led to fast growth in exports. So, that lead to lot of big corporate projects. Not nearly enough emphasis on smaller scale projects that lead to development from the bottom up.

    Way too much emphasis on corporation lead, trickle down, economics.

  47. 47
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Lawnguylander:

    I don’t think Kim’s name even came up in Salmon’s article. I’d be interested to see if he does a follow-up now that a candidate’s name is known since all of the ones he was speculating about were the Village-approved names like Summers and Sachs.

  48. 48
    Mike Goetz says:

    He’s from Dartmouth, which is the bastion of Ivy-League ‘wingers, so that might help him.

    I would have been fine with Summers too, even if he does bear the mark of Cain upon him, and must never be spoken of favorably again.

  49. 49
    Schad says:

    Looks like a great pick to me. While he isn’t an economist, he’s well-versed in the machinations of the international development community, and with his experience there’s an outside chance that he can achieve the unachievable: making the World Bank work in concert with the other multilateral development and trade organizations, rather than veering of in its own desired directions, coherent policy be damned.

  50. 50
    boss bitch says:

    @ericblair: oh my god, you hit the nail right on the head.

  51. 51
    Helena Montana says:

    This is good/bad news for me, because I am professionally exposed to Larry Summers far more often than anybody should have to be, and if he went to the World Bank, he might stop doing business with my firm. Probably not though. I’m afraid he’s a lifelong affliction. But I’m glad at least he won’t be the World Bank’s affliction.

  52. 52
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, too, I have to admit I’m enjoying picturing Summers’ probable reaction upon being told, “Sorry, Larry, but we’ve decided to go with a college president. No, a current college president. Look, we decided to go with someone else, okay?”

    (I can’t remember what movie that’s from, where the character keeps protesting that he has the same qualifications, only to be told in exasperation that they went with someone else.)

  53. 53
    pragmatism says:

    @Mike Goetz:

    I would have been fine with Summers too, even if he does bear the mark of Cain upon him

    summers has 9-9-9 on his forehead? or is it a representation of a pizza?

  54. 54
    goethean says:

    Should have been Amartya Sen.

  55. 55
    Egg Berry says:

    It’s 11-dimensional banking!

  56. 56
  57. 57
    Egg Berry says:

    @ericblair:

    I think the important point is that Obama was going to so totally pick Summers (because you can tell what he’s thinking, you know), but the Prog Front wrote so many outraged blog posts and tweets that Obama just had to back down. So victory.

    You mean VICTORY!

  58. 58
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Egg Berry: Well, passing around small green rectangles isn’t working, so maybe more dimensions will help.

  59. 59
    Mnemosyne says:

    @PeakVT:

    Yeah, I don’t think I agree with him. He thinks that an economist/banker should still be the head even though the policies that economists and bankers at the World Bank proposed ended up being pretty disastrous for actual development in the third world (as opposed to the rent-seeking “development” of churning financial markets that the Washington Consensus encouraged).

    If the plan is to re-direct the World Bank back to encouraging and financing infrastructure in developing countries rather than growing their GDP, I think Kim may be a better choice than the economists and bankers that Salmon prefers.

  60. 60
    Gus says:

    Holy shit, that may be the most impressive résumé I’ve ever seen.

  61. 61

    I don’t see how the snake pit that is an Ivy League faculty senate can be much better, or worse, than where’s he’s going.

    Primas can only get so donna.

  62. 62
    gwangung says:

    If the plan is to re-direct the World Bank back to encouraging and financing infrastructure in developing countries rather than growing their GDP, I think Kim may be a better choice than the economists and bankers that Salmon prefers.

    As in doing the grassroots spadework in development, as opposed to the top down modes of economists?

  63. 63
    Culture of Truth says:

    The Korean-born Kim is a medical doctor, anthropologist, and MacArthur fellow, best known for his pioneering work to fight HIV and tuberculosis in the Third World.

    What a snob!

    .

  64. 64
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gwangung:

    As in doing the grassroots spadework in development, as opposed to the top down modes of economists?

    Exactly. I’ll be curious to see how the nomination goes — I’m assuming it has to be approved by the Senate? I’m not really sure.

  65. 65
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Mnemosyne: No Senate confirmation.

  66. 66
    Jay in Oregon says:

    @pragmatism:
    @rlrr:

    It’s typically winger shorthand for “out-of-touch intellectual/elitist who doesn’t understand how things work in the REEEEEEAL world.”

  67. 67
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Jay in Oregon: And we all know the “REAL WORLD” is the space between the couch and the TV.

  68. 68
    dadanarchist says:

    This is a great choice. Partners in Health, which Dr. Kim helped found with Dr. Paul Farmer, is one of the best charities around (esp. in Haiti). And, Farmer and Partners in Health believe that healthcare is as much an issue of social justice as it is an issue of delivery. So Glenn Beck should be blowing a gasket any moment now.

  69. 69
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Mnemosyne: To clarify: this is not a US cabinet or equivalent position. It has to be approved by the World Bank’s executive board, only. And I can’t imagine for a second that Obama would have nominated him if he weren’t already sure that the votes are there.

  70. 70
    Culture of Truth says:

    Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner backed Kim, said an administration official. Geithner graduated from Dartmouth College with a bachelor’s degree in government and Asian studies.

    ZOMG!!!!!!!

  71. 71
    WaterGirl says:

    @Mnemosyne: Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie.

  72. 72
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, too, I’m just going by Wikipedia, but it sounds like the original mandate of the World Bank was more of a grassroots thing. Developing countries would come to the WB and say, “We’d like you to loan us money to build some roads and schools, and for mosquito abatement to reduce malaria” and the WB would examine the proposal to see if it was viable. The IMF was supposed to be the institution that was looking at the overall economic health of the country and concentrating on things like GDP. The World Bank was supposed to be financing infrastructure.

    But then, as they did here in the US, the neocons and free marketeers pounced when they spotted free money being given to people who would spend it on roads and schools and not complicated financial instruments, so they convinced DLCers like Clinton that the World Bank should have essentially the same mission as the IMF.

    I could very well be talking out of my ass here, so anyone who knows better should feel free to correct me.

  73. 73
  74. 74
    Mnemosyne says:

    @WaterGirl:

    That’s it! It was on TCM a few months ago and we were all live-critiquing it.

  75. 75
    Culture of Truth says:

    While a student at Harvard Medical School, Kim co- founded Partners in Health, a nonprofit organization that hasopened clinics in countries including Haiti and Peru. Kim, while working for the group in Peru in the mid-1990s, helped develop a treatment program for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

    Paul Wolfowitz, [ supporter of wars based on lies,] and a former deputy secretary of defense in the administration of George W. Bush , who resigned under pressure in 2007 after giving his companion an unusually large pay raise and promotion.

    So pretty much the same.

  76. 76
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Helena Montana: May be he will retire soon.

  77. 77
    Citizen Alan says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Summers was the Village’s pick.

    You’re missing an “r.”

  78. 78
    Culture of Truth says:

    The choice is subject to approval by the board of bank, and a decision is scheduled by April 20.

    “We are the committee”

    Name that Movie!

  79. 79
    PeakVT says:

    @Mnemosyne: I think he really had his heart set on Ngozi, so he’s being a tad sour. And while Ngozi is an economist with a history at the WB, I don’t think she is cut off from the on-the-ground issues of development.

    I think Kim is a good pick, and probably the best pick Obama could make that wouldn’t upset Congress and jeopardize funding. Unfortunately, an African female would just not have gone over well with the cretins currently running the show in the House.

  80. 80
    Brachiator says:

    @ericblair:

    Personally, this is probably a good direction for the World Bank, but I don’t know anything about the guy really and I don’t know how healthy it would be for yet another American to get the job.

    Apparently, some traditions endure:

    Tradition has held that Washington selects the head of the World Bank and Europe the leader of its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund, since they were founded during World War II.

    I recall some vague scuttlebutt somewhere that Secretary of State Clinton was on the short list for the World Bank.

    I don’t see much mention of Kim’s religion. This must be deeply troubling to the Santorums of the world.

  81. 81
    S. cerevisiae says:

    Wingnut e-mail screaming that Obama picked a North Korean dictator to head the World Bank in 3…2…1…

  82. 82
    Emma says:

    @Davis X. Machina: My thoughts exactly. If he can handle a bunch of department heads in a budget fight, he can handle anything.

  83. 83
    dogwood says:

    This is a stellar nomination. For anyone here who hasn’t read Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’ve been donating yearly to Partners in Health from the moment I closed the book. And anyone who would doubt Dr. Kim’s ability to deal with the issues facing the World Bank and it’s committment to underdeveloped nations because he’s an “academic” is really selling Dr. Kim short. He might be president of Dartmouth now, but his life is a testament to actually committing yourself to difficult work and getting things done. I’m glad Kim was willing to take the job, but get ready to see wingnuts go after Kim and Paul Farmer with a vengeance.

  84. 84
    danielx says:

    @Primigenius:

    I’d say with his background this guy probably has at least a rudimentary knowledge of economics. Considering Summers’ and Wolfowitz’s records of epic fail and general assholery, I can’t see how Kim could possibly do any worse….

  85. 85
    Lawnguylander says:

    @PeakVT:

    No. Salmon’s analysis was independently and completely wrong. Can’t blame the Villagers for that unless the Villager in question is Salmon.

  86. 86
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Martin: IMO what we get from the Villagers, conventional or un-, deserves to be referred to derisively as “whizzdumb“. It’s more descriptive of what actually underlies their pronouncements. (NB number of z’s can be varied according to mood & sleep deficit.)

  87. 87
    Hawes says:

    OK, mea culpa. I went to Dartmouth. If you can handle the raging factions of rich snobby alums, frat boys resenting the loss of their male privilege (which group may or may not have included me at some point), academicians and a student body that has gotten remarkably diverse since he took over… World Bank should be cake.

    I also read Mountains Beyond Mountains and what I remember is that he grew exasperated by Farmer’s purity at times. Kim wanted to do the most for the most, rather than all for some. That’s why he led the way in Peru with antibiotic resistant TB.

    Frankly, as an alum, I’m sad to lose the first really inspired and inspiring president we’ve had up in Hangover, but heartened for the World Bank.

  88. 88
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @dadanarchist:

    So Glenn Beck should be blowing a gasket any moment now.

    The poor baby.

    May he blow many more. To include the demonic substitutes for valves in his demonic substitute for a heart.

  89. 89
    dogwood says:

    @danielx:

    I’d say with his background this guy probably has at least a rudimentary knowledge of economics.

    How nice of you to give the guy your begrudging seal of approval. You don’t do the kind of work Dr. Kim and Dr. Farmer did for years with just a rudimentary knowledge of economics.

  90. 90
    PeakVT says:

    @Lawnguylander: How was it wrong? Was Salmon supposed to examine the entire universe of possible candidates?

  91. 91
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @Kay:

    That’s what they’re mad about. The “fighting poverty and disease” part.

    No, they’re mad because the Black Guy did something. Anything. If he had nominated Rush Limbaugh as head of teh World Bank, they’d be mad.

  92. 92
    Ozymandias, King of Ants says:

    @Culture of Truth: Chariots of Fire.

  93. 93
    Ozymandias, King of Ants says:

    The World Bank isn’t lacking in economists, and the directorship is an inherently political job.

    So why did Villagers think it would go to Summers in the first place? As an economist, he’d possibly be duplicating skills that already exist on the staff, and as a politician, he’s harder to work with than Attila the Hun.

  94. 94
    Anne Laurie says:

    @kay:

    He’s from Iowa, well, since he was 5.
    __
    If they try anything nasty, we can call them coastal elitists who loathe The Heartland.

    As a geek, I am impelled to mention the scene from Star Trek 2:

    Bystander: What the — are you from outer space?
    __
    Time-travelling Capt. Kirk: No, I’m from Iowa. I just work in outer space.

  95. 95
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Ozymandias, King of Ants:

    So why did Villagers think it would go to Summers in the first place?

    Because Summers was telling the Villagers that he was the Only Possible Best Choice for the job, and conventional wisdom is that Larry Summers is never wrong.

  96. 96
    Lawnguylander says:

    @PeakVT:

    It wasn’t that he didn’t know who Obama would nominate. Admitting he had no idea at all would have been the honest thing to write, but it wouldn’t have been very Savvy so we can’t have that. It was the crap about Summers and Clinton that was crap. Just because his analysis was coming from many of his readers would see as a more righteous perspective doesn’t make it any less wrong.

  97. 97
    Judas Escargot says:

    @jl:

    Not nearly enough emphasis on smaller scale projects that lead to development from the bottom up.

    If one presupposes there’s such a thing as “Human Capital”, then you’re forced to admit that health care is a human capital issue. Which therefore also makes it a development issue.

    In some ways, this is brutally capitalist: Kind of hard to build factories (or to buy anything made in one) when you’re busy dying of TB and rickets.

    Given that mindset, the pick makes sense to me.

  98. 98
    pluege says:

    For Summers, this ends a winning streak of falling upwards.

    shouldn’t that be: “…failing upwards”?

  99. 99
    taylormattd says:

    I have decided this pick doesn’t exist, given my understanding is OBAMA IS A CORPORATE WHORE HE SOLD US ALL OUT TO THE BANKS CORPORATE MASTERS FNORD

  100. 100
    PeakVT says:

    @Lawnguylander: Where did Salmon ever say he knew who Obama would nominate?

  101. 101
    David Koch says:

    This is disappointing, I though Obama was going to nominate Hitler?

    Really upset that Obama let Hitler down.

  102. 102
    Greg says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    As a geek, I am impelled to mention the scene from Star Trek 2:

    As a geek, I feel compelled to correct you. That scene was from Star Trek 4.

  103. 103
    Weaselone says:

    It’s actually an inspired choice. One of the key economic issues facing many developing countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa is health, namely the infection of large percentages of their working age populations and children with HIV and TB. This imposes massive costs on families, society and the meager resources at the nations’ disposal. It also depletes valuable human capital.

    I’m also fairly confident that a man with a doctorate in Anthropology and a long history of working in global health has a sizable amount of experience with the economics of the developing world and is intimately acquainted with the tools and methodologies of economists.

  104. 104

    @ericblair: They probably have no clue who this guy was/is, and I bet neither did you before today. Like anyone else, I am sure they are just happy Larry Summers wasn’t picked, if they care anything at all about this appointment.

  105. 105
    Felanius Kootea says:

    Fantastic choice – he helped co-found Partners in Health and did some amazing work in Haiti and Peru (and now they’re also in Rwanda). I always liked Jim Kim and Paul Farmer’s philosophy of having *a preferential option for the poor*. I believe he worked for the WHO before heading out to Dartmouth, so he does have some experience with diplomacy of sorts.

  106. 106
    Lawnguylander says:

    @PeakVT

    Where did Salmon ever say he knew who Obama would nominate?

    Here:

    This is really bad news, because by a process of elimination it more or less forces Obama to go with Larry Summers.

    That seems pretty straight forward to me. Obama was not forced to go with Larry Summers. The speculation about Hillary Clinton was just silly, but there he might have been fucking around and making fun of other people who were publicly pushing her for the job. I’m not sure.

  107. 107
    mainmati says:

    I have been working for more than 30 years in the developing world; more than half of my life has been spent there. My field is environment but this sluices into health at many levels. I’m also an economist and I am sick and tired of seeing bankers proposed to these positions. Yes, Wolfowitz was not a banker; he was a NeoCon asshole. Neither was McNamara, who despite his terrible Vietnam legacy was the best WB President, ever, ardently pro-poor, actually a radical by today’s very diminished standards.

    My question about this out-of-the-box choice is will he be up to the challenge of managing a really mammoth bureaucracy, albeit one that aspires to be a real meritocracy. This is not a university or an NGO.

    I wish him all the best and hope he’s got a really solid team backing him up.

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