Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

James Wolfensohn ; Excerpts from a Monitor Breakfast on Poverty and Globalization

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

James Wolfensohn ; Excerpts from a Monitor Breakfast on Poverty and Globalization

Article excerpt

President of the World Bank James D. Wolfensohn rose to be executive partner at Salomon Brothers and later founded his own investment firm, James D. Wolfensohn, Inc., which employed, among other notables, former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker.

An Australian by birth, Mr. Wolfensohn is now a naturalized US citizen. He has a bachelors and a law degree from the University of Sydney and an MBA from Harvard. He was a member of the Australian Olympic Fencing team, and he has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth.

On President Bush's performance on poverty:

"President Bush, to the surprise of many, has in fact made decisions already which advanced at least the funding for poverty reduction way beyond anything we have had before.

"The US contribution up to now in development assistance had been 10 billion dollars. As you know, [Bush] has come up with a program that [would add] an extra 5 billion - which is a 50 percent increase over the next four years. And the Europeans came up with 8 billion.

"So we are in fact seeing at this particular moment a significant increase in the development funding, but it is from a fairly low base. ...the big issue for us is what is the quantum, what is the level of development assistance you need to get. At the moment, overseas development assistance is a bit over $50 billion, agricultural subsidies are $350 billion, and defense expenditures [are] somewhere between $900 billion and a trillion. So if you deal with the question of what I call the other war, $50 billion is probably not near enough.

"So we have made a nice start but it is probably going to prove to be inadequate."

On international interest in rebuilding Iraq:

"There are a lot of people, expatriate Iraqis and others, who can see the potential of this country - which is enormous."

"The Brazilians tell us they are the best friends of Iraq, the Indians tell us they are the best friends of Iraq, the Afghans tells us they are best friends of Iraq. There isn't anybody who is not the best friend of Iraq. And they are all ready to come in and rebuild the country. And the interest is all commercial. And highly significant....that did not happen in East Timor, I can assure you. …

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