Sachs joins heated-up race to head World Bank

Sachs joins heated-up race to head World Bank

WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
The race to succeed World Bank president Robert Zoellick is heating up with the emergence of the first declared candidate, another American.

Renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs, who led the UN committee on the Millennium development goals, threw his hat in the ring on March 2 in a Washington Post opinion piece, saying the World Bank needs an expert like himself rather than another politician or Wall Street banker.

Sachs’s declaration came amid signs the United States is eyeing others for the high-profile job.
“The United States signaled that it was looking at the possibility of nominating (Treasury Secretary Timothy) Geithner, (one of his predecessors Larry) Summers, or someone from the private sector like (Pimco chief executive) Mohamed El-Erian,” said a person close to the World Bank, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Those three have remained mum on their interest in heading the global development lender.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also has been widely mentioned in the media as a possibility. Geithner’s deputy for international affairs, Lael Brainard, has drawn some attention as well.

With the deadline for nominations three weeks away, the competition “is beginning to pick up speed,” the source said.

US decides
One thing seems certain, though: despite a chorus of calls from emerging markets and NGOs for a non-American to lead the development lender, in the name of the “new normal” global economy, the United States, as the biggest stakeholder, is expected to decide the winner.

The World Bank has promised the selection process will be “merit-based and transparent” and open to candidates from its 187 member nations. But in an unwritten pact since the creation of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund nearly seven decades ago, the U.S. has always put an American at the helm of the Bank and Europe has ensconced a European as IMF managing director.

After Zoellick announced two weeks ago he was stepping down on June 30 at the end of his five-year term, China and Brazil called for a fair, competitive selection process.