BBC World Service

U.S. picks a nominee for head of the World Bank

Andrew Walker Mar 23, 2012

Stacey Vanek Smith: President Obama has announced his pick to head the World Bank. Jim Yong Kim is the president of Dartmouth College right now, but he could be heading the World Bank soon.

The BBC’s economics correspondent Andrew Walker joins us now to talk about this. Good morning, Andrew.

Andrew Walker: Good morning, Stacey.

Vanek Smith: Andrew, the American nominee to head the World Bank has been kind of hanging over the proceedings for a few weeks now, from what I understand. What happens next?

Walker: The World Bank will have to consider all the nominations it gets — and when I say the ‘World Bank,’ I mean the World Bank’s board, which is made up of 25 members, representatives of the member countries. If there are more than three, they will probably then whittle it down to a short list of three, and then make a decision. They try to make that decision by consensus — that’s with everybody supporting the final candidate. But if they can’t, they’ll do it by simple majority. And bear in mind, the voting in the World Bank board is weighted; the United States in particular has nearly 16 percent of the vote. So the simple fact of the U.S. director voting for Mr. Kim will give him a very strong head start.

Vanek Smith: Right, the U.S.’s official pick is usually the person who gets the job, traditionally has been. Is that going to be the case this time too, you think?

Walker: It’s true it has always been the United States. The chances are, yes, I think it probably will be, and the reason for that is that he is likely also to get the support of most European countries because part of the same informal deal that gives the World Bank to the U.S. nomination, also gives the IMF to the Europeans. And when you add in the European Union, you get to more than 40 percent of the total vote. So it would take a very united, very determined campaign behind another candidate to beat them.

Vanek Smith: How does the rest of the world feel about the current setup?

Walker: Many people, many countries, feel that it is ridiculously outdated to have these two institutions run, or at least the leadership of these two institutions, allocated by this kind of carve-up that really they think belongs in the garbage can of history. But the fact is, because of this weighted voting system, it is very difficult to break through.

Vanek Smith: The BBC’s economics correspondent Andrew Walker. Andrew, thank you.

Walker: My pleasure.

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