World Bank directors to decide on new leader

Gretchen Wilson Apr 16, 2012

David Brancaccio: Right at the center of so many developing economies? The World Bank. Today the Bank’s directors are picking a new new president. The U.S. has nominated one candidate, and historically the American choice gets the job. But for the first time, there’s another contender — from the developing world.

Gretchen Wilson reports from Johannesburg.

Gretchen Wilson: The World Bank has been led by an American ever since it was founded shortly after World War II. But for years many countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa have pushed for leaders they say would better reflect the changing global economy and its growth.

Pravin Gordhan: To ensure that growth happens in a more evenly distributed way geographically speaking.

Pravin Gordhan is South Africa’s finance minister. This morning he told reporters that all African countries remain united behind the other nominee, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. She’s an MIT and Harvard trained economist who spent more than 20 years at the World Bank and rose to its #2 spot. Now Nigeria’s Finance Minister, she slams corruption and often uses Twitter to announce policy changes.

The American nominee is Dartmouth University president Jim Yong Kim, a doctor who helped build public health systems in poor countries.

Gordhan commends the World Bank for opening nominations for the first time, allowing a candidate like Okonjo-Iweala to be considered. But many are concerned that the World Bank voting structure makes the U.S. nominee virtually unbeatable.

Gordhan: From what I’m hearing, there are serious concerns about the levels of transparency.

With Kim set to win, some developing nations are already looking ahead, saying they hope his experience — especially in public health — will make him a strong voice in the fight against global poverty.

In Johannesburg, I’m Gretchen Wilson for Marketplace.

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