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As Another American Leads The World Bank, Are Emerging Nations Being Ignored?

What is the Big Idea?

Jim Yong Kim, a global health expert and the president of Dartmouth College was named as the next president of the World Bank, according to The New York TimesDr. Kim, 52, will take over on July 1 after the current president, Robert B. Zoellick, steps down at the end of his five-year term.

It was the first time that the World Bank’s 25 member executive board considered more than one candidate.

What is the Significance?

Emerging and developing economies were rallying behind Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the 57-year-old Nigerian finance minister, and José Antonio Ocampo, the former Colombian finance minister and high-ranking United Nations official, who is 59. This is a reflection of the developing world’s increasing clout and importance on the global stage. 

While both Okonjo-Iweala and Ocampo were long shots for the job–as the voting shares on the board are controlled by Europe, United States and Japan–their candidacies “reignited a debate over Washington’s continued control of the institution.”

“The old order has triumphed yet again, but this may be its last hurrah,” said Eswar S. Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell University. “The tradition of carving up the top jobs at the major international financial institutions among nominees of advanced countries has become untenable and unjustifiable.”

The bank has given more power to countries like China, Brazil and India, but this has not resulted in a non-American rising to the top position in the organization. The World Bank, which finances a wide variety of private and public development projects, has traditionally been overseen by an American. A European heads the International Monetary Fund.

Kim is the first president to come from a developing country. His family emigrated to the U.S. from Korea. 

“I’ve worked for years trying to help countries achieve the same economic growth I saw in Korea,” Kim said. “What I bring to the bank, which is a very special bank, is this unshakable optimism that countries can go down the same path I saw Korea go down.”


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