Few people on the street may be familiar with the
As current World Bank President
Although the bank at its core is a development institution, it was, surprisingly, never led by a development professional. Past presidents included individuals with strong ties with the
This time, the customary process of selecting the president has been challenged both within the United States and from abroad.
Overall, this increased competition has augured well for the bank, as it has attracted a field of strong candidates.
There are three contenders. The U.S. candidate is Jim Yong Kim, the current president of
The other two candidates are the Nigerian finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and a former Colombian finance minister, Jose Antonio Ocampo. Both are trained economists, with, respectively, a Ph.D. in urban studies and planning from
This is, no doubt, an impressive crop of candidates — but not necessarily a perfect one. Though Mr. Kim is an inspirational candidate, his experience in public health is deep but narrow. Mr. Kim has no economic policymaking experience, and many orthodox economic commentators have found fault with his perspectives on economic growth and ways to achieve it. He was less than ebullient about growth in his book, "Dying for Growth." He also holds a heterodox but sensible perspective that "every country must follow its own path to growth."
Ms. Okonjo-Iweala has strong policy credentials. In her first term as finance minister, she successfully negotiated
As a minister in Colombia, Mr. Ocampo won some accolades from the U.S. administration for his collaboration in its money-laundering effort. However, the country's budget deficit soared on his watch as finance minister. While he is a seasoned bureaucrat, Mr. Ocampo introduced few imaginative initiatives during his tenure at the U.N.
The flaws of these candidates aside, what represents an unambiguous advance over the past is the current selection process, which is more open and transparent — an important reform for so critical a global institution.