Friday, March 9, 2012

House Dems ask Obama to push global poverty expert to lead World Bank

House Dems ask Obama to push global poverty expert to lead World Bank

A group of House Democrats are calling on President Obama to push Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, an economist and global poverty expert to serve as the next president of the World Bank.

The coalition, led by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) argued that the global economic leadership position "has often been headed by [a] career politician or a Wall Street Banker," and that it was time to name a man who has spent much of his career focused on global poverty. So far, the letter has garnered the signatures of 20 Democrats.

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
"It [the World Bank] has often fallen short in its efforts to build sustainable economies and healthy communities for the people of the developing world," the letter stated. "In contrast, Professor Sachs is a development professional and a problem solver — someone who has seen the destabilizing effects of poverty, famine, and resource scarcity first hand, and who has mobilized people and resources to do something about it."

Sachs, currently the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, is publicly campaigning for the position.
“There have been 11 presidents of the World Bank, and not one of them yet has been an expert in international development,” Sachs told The Washington Post. “The world would be better off and America’s interests in a peaceful world would be better served by an expert in development at the bank.”

Obama is expected to play a leading role in filling the top spot at the World Bank, which will become open in June. Current President Robert Zoellick has informed the institution he does not plan to extend his time there beyond his five-year tenure.

While the World Bank's leader is technically chosen by its board, longtime convention has the United States effectively naming its head as the group's largest contributor. That power comes as part of a long-standing agreement under which the head of the International Monetary Fund comes from Europe.

No one has been publicly named by the White House as a candidate for the spot, but reports indicated that former Treasury secretary and Obama adviser Lawrence Summers and United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice are being considered. And Obama may be open to a nontraditional pick, as Bloomberg has reported the White House included Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in initial discussions.

Following Zoellick's announcement in February, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the White House would be naming its preferred candidate in the "coming weeks."

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