Jeffrey Sachs makes his pitch for World Bank presidency

Writing in the Washington Post, Jeffrey Sachs lobbied to succeed Robert Zoellick as World Bank president with an outsider’s pitch. Sachs, who is director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, said he was not “from Wall Street or U.S. politics,” but was instead “a practitioner of economic development, a scholar and a writer.”

He said he views the World Bank beyond the traditional notion.

“At its best, the bank serves as a powerhouse of ideas and a meeting ground for key actors who together can solve daunting problems of poverty, hunger, disease and environmental degradation. The World Bank should create a truly international meeting of the minds (a point underscored by the fact that its highly esteemed lead economist is from China),” Sachs contended.

Reuters columnist Felix Simon, however, is unimpressed with Sachs’s credentials, launching a critical op-ed against his candidacy. “Sachs’s worldview, boiled down, is that development is easy, we know how to do it, and that given enough money, it’s relatively trivial to spend that money in an effective way to reduce poverty around the world. When World Bank presidents come in with that attitude, the results can be wasteful at best and downright counterproductive at worst,” asserts Simon.

Michael Shank of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict sees it differently. He maintains that other candidates, such as Larry Summers or Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are too traditional and have “little to no on-the-ground international development experience, nor an understanding of climate change’s potential impacts on global development and poverty.”
“Other candidates like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may be able to move the Bank’s political agenda in a few capitals but will come up short on leveraging international development economists and may be hindered by her current political post given the recent rifts that have erupted between the US government and a growing list of countries,” he says in The Hill.


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