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How Kim Works (or doesn’t)

The headline in the Chicago Tribune was dramatic: Exclusive: World Bank to cut $400 million from budget in reorganization, but the story was less so:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank plans to cut $400 million from its budget as part of a sweeping reorganization to make the global development lender more efficient and responsive, the bank’s chief financial officer said on Monday.


The savings, which have not yet been publicly disclosed, are part of the World Bank’s first major strategic realignment in 17 years. The $400 million figure will be presented to the World Bank’s member countries later this week during its annual meetings, along with a new strategy to focus the institution on its poverty-fighting goals.

The $400 million in savings will be phased in over three years and mark an 8 percent cut from the bank’s current $5 billion in annual expenses, Bertrand Badre, who is also the bank’s managing director for finance, said in an interview…

The bank has not yet outlined exactly where it will find the savings, although Badre suggested travel policies, information technology and real estate would be good places to start. Many World Bank employees were already sending him suggestions.

“Nobody likes to cut costs,” he said. “That’s pretty human. But the reality is that everybody is aware that we could do things better.” [Emphasis added]

In the real world, first you find places to cut, you add them all up, and then you announce your plan based on real information. In Jim Kim’s world, you come up with a nice round number, you tell everyone about it, and take a great deal of credit for things that you might never do. What do you bet that the World Bank’s books never show any evidence of these cuts in the next three years?

At the College in May 2011, the faculty asked for detail about Kim’s supposed $100M budget reorganization, and when Kim and Folt presented a sad hodgepodge of data that would make an accountant cry, the faculty rejected their explanations not once but twice. Do the College’s accounts show any cuts from Kim’s three years as President? We’ll see in a few weeks when the numbers for 2013 come out. Hint: not in 2011 and 2012 — Kim’s first two budgets.

Kim has now gone down to Washington to peddle the same snakeoil. I wonder if the Board at the World Bank will be looking as closely at Kim as the Dartmouth faculty did.

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