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Health Expert Kim Chosen to Head World Bank, Extending U.S. Monopoly on Job

Monday, 16 Apr 2012 01:41 PM

Jim Yong Kim was chosen to be president of the World Bank, becoming the first physician and Asian-American to head the lender after emerging markets failed to rally around a challenger to the U.S. monopoly on the job.

The World Bank board of directors said it chose Dartmouth College President Kim to succeed Robert Zoellick, whose term ends June 30. A specialist in HIV/AIDS with a Ph.D. in anthropology, Kim, 52, faced rival bids from Nigeria and Colombia.

The candidacies “enriched the discussion of the role of the president and of the World Bank Group’s future direction,” the board said in an e-mailed statement. “The final nominees received support from different member countries, which reflected the high caliber of the candidates.”

Kim, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, breaks the mold of World Bank presidents, who have been drawn from government and finance. Kim, who was born in Korea and grew up in the U.S., has pledged to be a bridge between developed and advanced economies at the poverty-fighting institution, which committed $57 billion last year on everything from building roads to taking stakes in companies in emerging economies.

Kim’s expertise on health and development issues, as well as his experience at Dartmouth, “puts him in a prime position to initiate a much-needed reorientation of the World Bank’s role in global development,” said Eswar Prasad, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former official at the International Monetary Fund.

Russia and Mexico threw their support behind Kim, shunning Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Former Colombian Finance Minister Jose Antonio Ocampo withdrew from the race last week and endorsed Okonjo-Iweala.


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