Why Economists Are Jumping on the Jim Kim-Bashing Bandwagon

Lant Pritchett–a Professor of the Practice of International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School–has been leading a campaign against the election of Jim Kim to the World Bank presidency. While he isn’t the only critic of Dr. Kim’s nomination, he is among the most vocal and well-known. Though his views are his own, they have been amplified by other leading development economists, such as William Easterly at New York University and people associated with the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC.

Over the past few weeks, Pritchett has publicly questioned Kim’s qualifications, saying a lack of training in economics and experience in world finance should disqualify him from the post. He has further suggested that Kim’s nomination shows the arrogance and hegemony of American power over the institution. He has called for Kim to step aside for a merit-based election, in which the Nigerian candidate for the post, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (a World Bank, Harvard and MIT alum, also finance minister of Nigeria) would presumably sweep to victory.

A few days ago, Pritchett wrote an article in the New Republic (TNR) which comes clean about the real reasons for the escalating, grasping campaign of opposition to Jim Kim. The piece is called “Why Obama’s World Bank Pick Is Proving So Controversial.” The title is an overreach: It should really read “Why Obama’s World Bank Pick Is Proving So Controversial to Me and My Friends.”

Jim Kim has extensive support around the world for his candidacy, but it is vital for us to understand Pritchett’s objections because they boil down to what we think “development” is.

Read more here.


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