Keeping the World Bank relevant

Jim Yong Kim meets India's finance minister

By Dr Sanjaya Baru, Director for Geo-Economics and Strategy

Asian-American physician Jim Yong Kim was US President Barack Obama’s surprise nominee for the presidency of the World Bank last month. However, it was less surprising earlier this week when the bank’s executive directors formally chose him for the role.

Although this was the first time in the bank’s history that there were multiple nominees – including Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – Kim was always expected to win. Since the creation of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the 1944 Bretton Woods conference, the US and Europe have kept the management of both institutions firmly in their hands. The make-up of the bank’s board meant a much-lobbied-for shift in favour of an emerging-market candidate was unlikely this year.

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