Settling for Second Best at the World Bank

A blog about business and economics.
April 4 2012 7:49 AM

Settling for Second Best at the World Bank

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Nigeria's finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala addresses the media on March 23, 2012 in Pretoria, South Africa

Photo by Stringer/AFP/Getty Images.

Felix Salmon puts the question of the World Bank presidency squarely, does anyone really think Dartmouth President Jim Yom Kim is a better candidate than Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala?

The answer seems to be no. In the real world, it's hardly unusual for the best possible person to not get the job so I don't deem this a disaster. Kim is a fine choice, given the theory that the job has to go to an American. But that's a bad theory. As I suggested previously, the smart thing for an American administration to do would be to nominate a foreigner, which would preserve U.S. nominating privileges while also showing some broad-minded reasonableness. At the end of the day, you and I and the other citizens of the United States of America don't derive any concrete benefits from the convention that only an American can run the World Bank. We'd benefit much more from a well-run World Bank and a global perception that American leadership is used in a responsible way.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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