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Why Obama Should Keep Control of the World Bank

Jim Yong Kim, president of Dartmouth College and the U.S. nominee for World Bank president
Jim Yong Kim, president of Dartmouth College and the U.S. nominee for World Bank president Photograph by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

President Obama’s surprise Rose Garden announcement on March 23 nominating Jim Yong Kim to be the next president of the World Bank has heightened debate about the traditional prerogative of the White House to choose the bank’s leader. This arrangement has incited grumbling since the bank’s founding 68 years ago, but this time it’s different.

Two credible international candidates, Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Colombia’s Jose Antonio Ocampo, are challenging Kim for the bank’s presidency. Controversy over Kim’s credentials (does he have the right experience? Is he anti-growth?), coupled with the White House’s awkward handling of his nomination (why an unknown—and why so last minute?) have critics of the U.S.-driven selection process clamoring for a more open contest. In their eyes, it’s long past time for the bank to appoint a non-American to its top post.