Magazine article American Banker

Conable Assumes World Bank Helm

Magazine article American Banker

Conable Assumes World Bank Helm

Article excerpt


Barber B. Conable Jr., the former New York congressman, becomes the seventh president of the World Bank today as that institution faces calls to make internal reforms and assume a larger role in easing the debt crisis among developing countries.

But as Mr. Conable takes over from A.W. Clausen, the former Bank of American chairman who served five years in the job, it must be some comfort to know that the World Bank's all-important relationship with the United States is generally in better shape than at any other time in the Reagan administration --despite a recent flap over loans to Brazil.

That is chiefly because Treasury Secretary James A. Baker 3d sees the bank as an ally and has focused less on disagreements in development aid policy than his predecessor, Donald T. Regan. Now, commercial bankers are waiting to see if the World Bank will indeed take a larger management and lending role in the debt crisis role as envisioned by Mr. Baker in his "initiative' on debt problems.

Since he was named to the post in mid-March, Mr. Conable, who is 63, has avoided nearly all public appearances and has immersed himself in an intensive three-month effort to study aspects of crucial issues facing the bank.

In the 40 years since it was founded, the World Bank has made many positive contributions. It has, for example, been a pioneer in developing and financing new farming techniques for emerging nations. In keeping the confidence of the investors who buy its bonds, it has shown that development lending can be done on a business basis. …

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