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Why the US Should Stop Ruling the World Bank

When the World Bank presidency becomes vacant in July, the US should break with tradition and help appoint an economist and development expert to the post, says Jeffrey Sachs.

What’s the Latest Development?

This July, the current president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, will step down. When he does, the world should break with the tradition of allowing the US to appoint an established politician to the post. Rather, says Jeffrey Sachs, the Bank’s 187 members should choose a qualified economist who will focus on global sustainable development. That would mean working to increase agricultural productivity, mobilizing information technology, deploying low-carbon energy systems and improving education in the world’s poorest regions.

What’s the Big Idea?

All 11 of the World Bank’s presidents have been American. Its headquarters located just blocks from the White House, it is an unwritten rule than the US appoints leaders to the Bank as an extension of its international business and policy goals, says Sachs. This myopic focus has come at the expense of fighting disease, like the AIDS and malaria pandemics that swept Africa in the 1990s, and failed to promote rural development by supporting small landholders in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Bank has a dedicated staff; it needs a dedicated leader.

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