Jones: Should the World Bank consider non-Americans for its next president?

By: /
March 22, 2012

Should the Bank consider non-Americans for their President? Perhaps, but the issue isn't as dire as the commentariat suppose.

The argument for opening up the selection process follows two lines. First, international institutions should have access to the best possible talent, irrespective of nationality. Second, the emerging economies, newly influential on the world stage, deserve recognition and influence through senior appointments. That these two arguments conflict doesn’t seem to worry anyone.

The problem with the second argument is, the BRICS can’t agree on a candidate, any more than they could for the IMF. Why: because they have profoundly different interests. The problem with the first argument is this: if the institution is important enough to matter, the selection will be a function of politics, not merit.

The upside of an American is, it helps ensure that the Administration/Congress pays attention. That’s very far from a given. And US support is still – sorry folks – indispensible.