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Posted on on March 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

This is a follow up to our:

Posted on on March 9th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Now it is clear – Professor Jeffrey Sachs wants the job of President of the World Bank, he is being supported by African governments and some others, and if elected it is said that he would be the first World Bank President who actually has experience in matters important to the job. All others were bankers or plain political figures that were remote from any skills that this job requires when dealing with developing and poor countries that also lack the economic infrastructure which professional bankers in the West take for granted.


Saturday 10 March 2012

Jeffrey Sachs’ Reform Candidacy for World Bank President.…

Washington, D.C.- Economist and health expert Jeffrey Sachs’ reported candidacy for World Bank president is welcome news for the two-and-a-half billion people around the world living in poverty, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said today. A Sachs presidency at the World Bank Group would likely make economic development a top priority, Weisbrot added.

“Everyone should welcome an actual campaign, and a merit-based selection, rather than just the U.S. government choosing a political or Wall Street hack, which until now has been the process for selecting a World Bank president,” Weisbrot said.

If Sachs were to get the job, he would be the first World Bank president with this kind of experience and knowledge of economic development – in other words, the first president that would be qualified for the job.
All of the others have been bankers, politicians, or political appointees.”

Weisbrot added that “The World Bank is in need of serious reform. I hope this newly competitive process will address the most important issues.”

While the Obama administration has yet to publicly put forward a candidate, Bloomberg reported that the administration’s former Chief Economic Advisor and former World Bank Chief Economist Larry Summers may be under consideration. Over 37,000 people have signed a petition opposing Summers’ possible candidacy due to past comments denigrating women’s intellectual capacity in math and science.   Critics of the World Bank’s environmental policies haven’t forgotten an infamous memo Summers wrote while at the World Bank arguing that Africa was “underpolluted.”

Sachs, Weisbrot noted, has made economic development strategies to reduce poverty and inequality a cornerstone of his work, having served as Director of the UN Millennium Project and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals; and in his current capacity as President and Co-Founder of Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization aimed at ending extreme global poverty; and as Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

Weisbrot said that Sachs has the necessary experience to fight for reforms that civil society groups and affected communities have long demanded, such as greater transparency, exemption of primary health and education from budget cuts in low-income countries, greater support for agricultural development and access to essential medicines, and an end to funding of fossil fuel and other environmentally destructive projects.

The Financial Times referred to Sachs’ likely candidacy in an article Wednesday, saying he has “declare[d] his interest in the job.” Sachs published an op-ed this week detailing some of the reforms he wants to see implemented at the World Bank.


Analysis: US must loosen grip on leadership if Bank is to help save world.
Published on Monday 27 February 2012
The world is at a crossroads. Either the global community will join together to fight poverty, resource depletion, and climate change, or it will face a generation of resource wars, political instability, and environmental ruin.
The World Bank, if properly led, can play a key role in averting these threats and the risks that they imply. The global stakes are thus very high this spring as the Bank’s 187 member countries choose a new president to succeed Robert Zoellick, whose term ends in July.
The World Bank was established in 1944 to promote economic development. Its central mission is to reduce global poverty and ensure that global development is environmentally sound and socially inclusive.
Yet, American officials have traditionally viewed the World Bank as an extension of United States foreign policy and commercial interests. Now many members, including Brazil, China, India, and several African countries, are raising their voices in support of more collegial leadership.

From the Bank’s establishment until today, the unwritten rule has been that the US government simply designates each new president: all 11 have been Americans, and not a single one has been an expert in economic development. Instead, the US has selected Wall Street bankers and politicians.

Yet the policy is backfiring on the US and badly hurting the world. Because of a long-standing lack of strategic expertise at the top, the Bank has lacked a clear direction and has solved far too few global problems.
For too long, the Bank’s leadership has imposed US concepts that are often utterly inappropriate for the poorest countries. For example, the Bank fumbled the pandemics of Aids, tuberculosis, and malaria during the 1990s, failing to get help to where it was needed to save millions of lives.
The Bank similarly missed crucial opportunities to support subsistence farmers and to promote integrated rural development more generally in impoverished rural communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
The Bank’s staff is highly professional, and would accomplish much more if freed from the dominance of narrow US interests and viewpoints. The Bank has the potential to be a catalyst of progress in key areas that will shape the world’s future, with the focus on agricultural productivity, education and communication.
Most importantly, the Bank’s new president should have first-hand professional experience regarding the range of pressing development challenges. The world should not accept the status quo.
A World Bank leader who once again comes from Wall Street or from US politics would be a heavy blow for a planet in need of creative solutions to complex development challenges.

• Jeffrey Sachs is professor of economics and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is also special adviser to United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals.

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