Sunday, December 5, 2004

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Good dirt on the World Bank

Back in October, I recommended Sebastian Mallaby's The World's Banker -- an intertwined history of the evolution of development policy and a biography of the Bank's current president, James Wolfensohn -- as an excellent read.

Today, I make the case at greater length in the New York Times Book Review. The closing paragraph sums it up:

Mallaby has done his homework, interviewing hundreds of World Bank officials, critics and government figures -- including Wolfensohn, whom he spoke to for nearly 20 hours. He has produced a book chock-full of affecting vignettes, and that rarest of treats -- an informed disquisition about public policy wrapped up in a fascinating narrative.

For the last time -- I really liked this book. I liked it so much it made it an extremely difficult book to review. Reviewing books one finds fault with is easy -- writing an interesting review that contains only praise is a much more difficult task.

The World's Banker comes out at an interesting time -- Wolfensohn has served as president of the Bank for two terms, and the word on the street is that he's angling for a third term. Will he get it? My sources say no -- this is a plum patronage apointment for Bush (the Bank President is by custom an American, just as the IMF president is by custom a European). I've heard three names bandied about for Wolfensohn's replacement, in decreasing order of likelihood:

1) Colin Powell
2) Robert Zoellick
3) Gary Edson (the G-7 sherpa at the White House).


UPDATE: Thanks to P. O'Neill for reminding me that John Harwood had some interesting gossip in Friday's Wall Street Journal:

Officials say Michigan State University President Peter McPherson is a dark-horse contender to head the World Bank. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman [Richard] Lugar, angered by allegations of mismanagement, mulls new oversight proposals including more financial transparency and whistleblower protections.

Here's a link to McPherson's vita, which suggests two things: a) McPherson has the substantive background to do the job; and, b) He's part of the Ford White House mafia -- i.e., Rumsfeld/Cheney.

posted by Dan on 12.05.04 at 01:05 AM


Friday's WSJ said that Peter McPherson, president of Michigan St, has emerged as the dark horse candidate. Who?

posted by: P O'Neill on 12.05.04 at 01:05 AM [permalink]

That should be 'a link to McPherson's vita', not Peterson's.

posted by: Nitish on 12.05.04 at 01:05 AM [permalink]

McPherson also has very strong ties to Vice President Cheney. The case that is made for him is that he knows development (USAID, Peace Corps) and he is knows finance. Not a bad combination.

posted by: RCK on 12.05.04 at 01:05 AM [permalink]

Can we say "Treasury/WallStreet/WorldBank/IMF" Complex?

I think we can.

These candidates have no interest in development.

posted by: NeoliberalismIsFatal on 12.05.04 at 01:05 AM [permalink]

I'm not quite clear on the link between the first sentence in the quoted WSJ paragraph and the second, unless Lugar is the source of the McPherson rumor. Otherwise it looks as if the 'graph is reporting on two separate stories, not one.

posted by: Zathras on 12.05.04 at 01:05 AM [permalink]

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