Tuesday
Mar272012

Mr. Kim vs. the World Bank

The nomination of Jim Yong Kim by President Barack Obama to be the next President of the World Bank is generating plenty of controversy.

Lant Pritchett categorically stated that his nomination was a “terrible idea”. 

William Easterly has already accused him of being anti-growth (see also here).

Perhaps all of Mr. Kim’s critics prefer the status quo where the World Bank is run by ex-warmongers (Robert McNamara), bankers (James Wolfensohn) or career civil servants (Robert Zoelick). Wait wasn’t that the World Bank that they loved to criticize?

Now President Obama came up with a radical idea:  why not appoint someone with a track record in solving the problems of poor people in developing countries? Before turning to any of Mr. Kim’s theoretical books (quotes from which can be easily taken out of context), you should first check out Partners in Health, the extraordinary organization he started in 1987 with Paul Farmer, Todd McCormack, Thomas J. White and Ophelia Dahl.

Few people have as much to be proud of when it comes to tackling major problems in development.

If you want to see something that really works, how about the extraordinary new 150 bed hospital at Butaro in rural northern Rwanda:

Or for the brand new teaching hospital built by Partners in Health at Mirebalais in Haiti: watch this video

Sure, building hospitals will not miraculously turn extractive institutions to inclusive, unleash the growth potential of poor countries. But could any World Bank president do that?

Instead, it seems that Mr. Kim knows how to get things done and improve the lives of poor people. Now there is a radical notion for a World Bank president!

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