The Race is On to Succeed Zoellick at World Bank

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 2/16/2012 05:25:00 AM
I have to run but it's going to be very interesting going with the current World Bank President Robert Zoellick indicating that he is about to resign his post. The search is on for a successor with the US naturally in the vanguard. However, given the controversy of yet another European succeeding the ill-fated Dominique Strauss-Kahn with Christine Lagarde at the IMF, it is high time that representation at the Bretton Woods institutions became at least as cosmopolitan as changes in the leading players of the world economy. That is, non-European leadership at the IMF and non-American leadership at the World Bank where both jobs have been stitched up ever since. From Reuters:
World Bank President Robert Zoellick said on Wednesday he will step down in June and Washington pledged to put a replacement candidate forward within weeks for a job that has always gone to an American. The Obama administration said it would open the process to competition [to non-Americans], marking the first time it has shown willingness to loosen its grip on the world's top development lender...

Developing countries have for years pressed for a greater voice in leading global financial institutions and are likely to stress the importance of a competitive process, but the United States is still widely expected to retain its hold on the job.

"It is very important that we continue to have strong, effective leadership of this important institution, and in the coming weeks, we plan to put forward a candidate with experience and requisite qualities to take this institution forward," U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a statement.
There is also supposedly a "hostage" situation of US congressional funding being contingent of selecting yet another American for the top post:
While Geithner called for an "open and expeditious process," analysts say Washington can ill afford to give up the post without risking the U.S. Congress cutting funding for the Bank. Zoellick, who discussed the selection process with the board in a two-hour meeting on Wednesday, said the first step was for the board to call for nominations. "An open process is important," he said...

Speculation has been rife over who might take the job when Zoellick departs. Possible U.S. candidates include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers, but the State Department said Clinton would not be taking the job. "She has said this is not happening," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

Emerging market and developing countries have campaigned hard in recent years to break Europe's grip on the top position at the International Monetary Fund and the United States' hold on the presidency of the World Bank.

Officials from large emerging economies like Brazil said on Wednesday the selection process for Zoellick's successor should be based on qualifications and not nationality. However, they acknowledged that given U.S. congressional pressure the job will probably remain in the hands of an American.
But there are always excuses based on American political expediency--again, as if the world stops to wait for what America does:
Last year, emerging market economies made an aggressive push to fill the IMF top job in a bitter contest won by France's Christine Lagarde. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers said the World Bank job should stay in U.S. hands. "I think it ought to be (an American) given the balance between that and the IMF and the interests that we have right now," said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, a Democrat from Massachusetts.

Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, the committee's top Republican, echoed that sentiment: "Ideally I would like to see an American replace him ... That would be my preference."

Nancy Birdsall, who heads the Center for Global Development in Washington, said that while the United States was committed to an open process on paper, domestic politics necessitated a American successor. "The election year timing puts the White House in an especially unenviable position. There is a risk that the World Bank could become a highly partisan, U.S. hot-button issue, as the UN has too often been," she wrote in a recent blog.