Who is the best candidate to lead the World Bank? I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that the process for selecting a new World Bank chief is not designed to find an appropriate answer. The selection process is anachronistic and directs the attention to the wrong issue – whether a candidate carries a US passport. It gives too many people an excuse not to discuss the real issue: what sort of leadership is required to revitalise the World Bank?
Now that the White House has put forward its nominee – Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim – there are three people in the race. No one has presented an idea of what he or she would like to do if given the job. And it is probably a vain desire that the candidates will declare an intention. The White House would under normal circumstances be intent on seating the World Bank job with an American. Under an election year – with a President under fire from Republicans of being soft on foreign policy and only “leading from behind” – there will be even a stronger diplomatic campaign from the U.S. government to ensure its candidate gets the job. In other words, it is close to being a done deal that Jim Yong Kim will be the new World Bank chief.