By Cox, Rob
Newsweek , Vol. 159, No. 16
Byline: Rob Cox
A most unusual--and logical--choice.
If the competition to become the World Bank's next president were a normal process, Jim Yong Kim wouldn't stand a chance. The Dartmouth College president lacks two of the traditional qualifications for running an international lending body: financial savvy and diplomatic experience. But the race to lead the World Bank is everything but ordinary--particularly this time.
Americans have always helmed the bank, which doled out some $57 billion in loans and grants to poor and middle-income countries last year alone. Except for a congressman (Barber Conable) and a Ford Motor boss (Robert S. McNamara), all 11 chiefs were Wall Street veterans. Even outgoing president Robert Zoellick spent some time on the payroll of Goldman Sachs.
Not so the Korean-born physician Kim. At 52, he's spent the past three years in bucolic Hanover, N.H., where his biggest diplomatic challenge appears to have been quelling--with mixed success, according to a recent Rolling Stone expose--a fondness among its fraternities for painting their pledges in vomit.
But there's logic to the Obama administration's choice for the job.
Though it was decreed at the 1944 Bretton Woods confab that the United States would name the bank's president, it has 186 other stakeholders. And for the first time ever, they're making their voices heard. When the World Bank board meets this week in Washington, it will have two other candidates to interview: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Jose Antonio Ocampo, the former finance ministers of Nigeria and Colombia, respectively. …