Friday, April 01, 2005
I spent Wednesday at the World Bank, the day before the Board of Executive Directors met to consider the nomination of Paul Wolfowitz as President of the Bank. No one I talked to thought the appointment made any sense or would be good for the Bank. But no one thought the Board would dare oppose the nomination either. The main reason it seems is that politics and horse-trading don't go away just because you move to the multilateral stage. The Europeans, who had plenty of reasons to oppose Wolfowitz, in the end were expected to accept the nomination gracefully. But the rumor is that they extracted a price. Currently, the only operational Managing Director of the Bank (effectively the No. 2 in the hierarchy, after the President) is a Chinese national (he succeeded a Sweedish national who retired a couple of years ago). The Europeans, so the rumor goes, were promised either that the position would be shared with a European, or the Chinese would be replaced. I wonder how the Chinese feel about that? In any case, when the Board met on Thursday, the big, bad Wolfowitz was confirmed.