The Economist favors Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to take over at the World Bank. In takes just four paragraphs (one of them mildly brutal, one of them extremely so) to ram home the argument:
The World Bank is the world’s premier development institution. Its boss needs experience in government, in economics and in finance (it is a bank, after all). He or she should have a broad record in development, too. Ms Okonjo-Iweala has all these attributes, and Colombia’s José Antonio Ocampo has a couple. By contrast Jim Yong Kim, the American public-health professor whom Barack Obama wants to impose on the bank, has at most one.
Ms Okonjo-Iweala is in her second stint as Nigeria’s finance minister. She has not broken Nigeria’s culture of corruption—an Augean task—but she has sobered up its public finances and injected a measure of transparency. She led the Paris Club negotiations to reschedule her country’s debt and earned rave reviews as managing director of the World Bank in 2007-11. Hers is the CV of a formidable public economist.
Mr Ocampo was also finance minister, though his time in office, 1996-98, saw the budget deficit balloon. He ran the mildly statist UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. His is the CV of the international bureaucrat.
Mr Kim, the head of a university in New England, has done a lot of good things in his life, but the closest he has come to running a global body was as head of HIV/AIDS at the World Health Organisation—not a post requiring tough choices between, say, infrastructure, health and education. He pioneered trials of aid programmes before they became fashionable and set up an outfit called Partners in Health which does fine work in Haiti and Peru. But this is a charity, not a development bank. Had Mr Obama not nominated him, he would be on no one’s shortlist to lead the World Bank. (Indeed he is a far worse example of Western arrogance than Christine Lagarde, whom the Europeans shoehorned into the IMF job last year: the French finance minister plainly had the CV for the job.)