A World Bank insider's thoughts on a new Bank president

A World Bank source sent along some impressions of the talk within the institution about the coming selection of a new Bank president:

On the inside, it's surprising how open everyone is about [current president Robert] Zoellick not being around much longer -- even in his senior meetings people are speaking about the forthcoming 'transition'.  Having said this, there is a minority view that until he is reasonably confident that the eventual Republican nominee has a reasonable shot at winning, he will just stay put.  Regarding Larry Summers, there is now a lot of corridor talk, but people can't believe it's serious -- the NGOs would be all over him after his earlier gaffes at the Bank (famous memo on shipping nuclear waste to developing countries because they have a comparative advantage in absorbing waste) and his gender comments at Harvard.  So I'd say a majority is still watching to see whether Hillary C. comes forward.  Recent talk though seems to suggest that Hillary may swap with Biden to strengthen voter turn-out for the Obama re-election campaign -- in which case the Summers story may become more credible.

More: An informed reader is perplexed by the complacency of the World Bank staff in the face of the opaque selection process--and wonders if it doesn't have to do with U.S. political allegiances:

What surprises me is that the World Bank staff aren't questioning the selection process more. The inside source seems to say that staff aren't calling for a new leadership selection process. Last time around the Bank's Staff Association was instrumental in forcing Wolfowitz to resign through constant pressure, letters, organisation, and activism on what became known as TCS [The Current Situation]. The staff could be very influential.

So what is keeping them in their place? Over at the IMF it wasn't surprising that a staff with a plurality of people from Europe weren't going to be very loud about breaking the habit of a European in charge. But the Bank does not have that many US citizens as staff... Could it be that the staff actually longs for a US Democratic appointee? Not that this would placate Congress much, but would it be more in line with most staff opinion - firmly in the new Democratic camp?


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