President Obama’s nomination of Jim Yong Kim to lead the World Bank is irresponsible in the extreme. Not perhaps as irresponsible as his 2009 appointments of the two dynosaur hydraulic Keynesian economists, Lawrence Summers and Christina Romer, to key economic positions in 2009; but still reflective of major incompetence.
The World Bank is, well, a major bank. It is not a hospital nor is it a university college. Jim Yong Kim is a health expert and president of Dartmouth College. He lacks significant diplomatic and financial experience and he has absolutely no training in economics. His only real qualifications for the job is that he was born in a once developing country – South Korea – and that he has shown a commitment to development. But one could pull many such individuals off the streets of any major United States city.
President Obama’s nomination is cynical in the extreme. It signals a fundamental contempt for the mission of the World Bank. It garnishes the President’s reputation for pandering to Asia; and it signals a lack of any interest in having the United States chart the future for the Bank in a rapidly changing world.
Physician heal thyself, will be the likely response of bankers, financiers and economists worldwide when they find themselves dealing with an out-of-his-depth Dr. Kim on issues of immense importance for the world economy.
Next, the President may nominate a ballet dancer or a basketball player, or whoever else takes his personal fancy, to key roles in the global economy. Now surely such nominees might perform better than Summers or Romer ever could. But that is the lowest bar available for measuring success or failure in an increasingly complex world economy.