News Release

Congressional Push for Sachs as Next World Bank Head

For the first time in the World Bank’s history, a candidate is openly campaigning for presidency of the institution. Traditionally, the U.S. government has hand-selected the World Bank president, but economist and health expert Jeffrey Sachs has shaken up the process this time by publicly proclaiming his interest in succeeding Robert Zoellick as World Bank president, saying that to date World Bank presidents have been political appointees or bankers — not development experts.

Members of Congress are expected Friday to deliver a letter to President Obama urging him to nominate Sachs, now the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University to be the next World Bank president. A letter initiated by Rep. John Conyers and signed by over 25 members of Congress states: “Professor Sachs is widely considered to be the world’s leading expert on economic development and the fight against poverty. For over 25 years, he has advised dozens of governments throughout the developing world on economic development, environmental sustainability, poverty alleviation, debt cancellation, and globalization. He has twice been named among Time Magazine’s 100 most influential world leaders.”

MARK WEISBROT, DEBORAH JAMES, via Dan Beeton, beeton at cepr.net
Weisbrot is co-director fo the Center for Economic and Policy Research. James is director of international policy for the group. Weisbrot has written several pieces about the World Bank including “Why Jeffrey Sachs Would Make a Better World Bank President.”

James said today: “Folks in the U.S. who care about ending the suffering of the world’s poorest, have an opportunity to do something about it over the next week by demanding that President Obama nominate Jeffrey Sachs, probably the world’s best-known development leader, instead of current front-runner Larry Summers, who would just continue to use the Bank to push disastrous neoliberal economic policies and U.S. elite interests. Unfortunately, no developing country leaders have been nominated; however, many developing countries have already nominated Sachs. In addition to being a world candidate, he should also be the candidate of the U.S. After so many decades of damaging policies, we need someone at the World Bank who is deeply committed to a multidisciplinary, practical approach to eradicating poverty while living within the earth’s natural systems to prevent climate collapse.”

Weisbrot said today: “Sachs’ campaign for the World Bank presidency has already succeeded in highlighting the secretive, corrupt, and anti-democratic process by which the president is normally selected, as well as some of the major failings of the Bank itself. It is especially encouraging that a number of countries have been willing to confront the Obama administration by nominating or supporting him.

“President Obama wants to appoint a crony who will do what Treasury and Wall Street (pardon the redundancy) want the Bank to do. Sachs, on the other hand, wants the Bank to do more to help poor countries fight disease and poverty, and has a track record of doing this: including through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, the Millennium Villages Project, the Earth Institute, and other research and practical projects. He has also been a strong advocate for debt cancellation for developing countries and for stronger measures to combat climate change.”

Sachs has himself written an op-ed in the Washington Post: “How I Would Lead the World Bank” and has received the backing of numerous other individuals, from the prime ministers of Kenya, Namibia and Haiti, to noted economists such as Nouriel Roubini.