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World Bank as Favor Bank

Kim Jet.jpgHardly a day goes by without my newsfeed for Jim Kim announcing that he’s off to another country in a private jet. He’s expressing sympathy for typhoon victims or refugees or sufferers of famine, and he endlessly trumpets his resolve to make all of the world’s problems his very highest priority. When he meets with national leaders, a cheap loan or a funded project is invariably left in his wake.

Such largesse does not fall within the WB’s tradition of financing carefully planned, enduring infrastructure projects. But then my read is that Jim Kim, as during his time at Dartmouth, has a different agenda from his predecessors. He’s not thinking of his institution; he’s focused on himself. As Wills Begor ‘12 noted in his valedictory address in front of Kim:

[During Begor’s four years at Dartmouth] Dr. Jim Yong Kim became the 17th president of Dartmouth College, Jim Yong Kim became the president of the World Bank, and word on the street is he’s already looking for the next big job.

And what job would that be? My bet is that Kim is already lining up support to become the Secretary General of the United Nations. After the leadership of the World Bank, what job has less accountability and even more scope for slick talk to virgin audiences? Perfect for Kim. Let’s just hope that his goal is no more than his own shallow ambition. I would hate to see him the subject of a movie that refers obliquely to his brief time as Dartmouth’s President: The Hampshurian Candidate.

Addendum: For some vintage Kim, watch him flit from platitude to generality and then back again in this Wall Street Journal interview. He discusses the policies and initiatives necessary for global economic growth; disaster relief and climate change; economic prospects for women; and how billions of people need to be brought into modern financial systems — all in three minutes and twenty-four seconds. He sounds great, unless you know something about these subjects. Needless to say, inside the World Bank, staffers’ eyes are rolling.

Addendum: The parlor game du jour in Hanover is betting on who will flame out first: Jim Kim or Carol Folt. I am sorely afraid that neither of them will. If I am right, heaven help us. How many more of our leaders with glossy reputations are equally shallow and dishonest?

Addendum: Here is yesterday’s Google Alert for Kim:

World Bank President: Disaster Costs Ballooning…

Wall Street Journal
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim sits down with WSJ’s Sara Murray to discuss global growth, how climate change worsens natural disasters and economic …

The World Bank vs. Israeli settlements…
Jerusalem Post
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim (L). Photo: REUTERS. A newly-released report issued by the World Bank’s office for the “occupied Palestinian territories” …

World Bank report: Damages from extreme weather mount as …
Afrique en Ligue
Jim Kim, World Bank Group President, said the Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful typhoon ever to hit the Philippines, had brought into sharp focus how climate …

World Bank’s Kim Urges Gradual Fed Tapering as Nations Prepare …
Bloomberg.com
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said he hopes the Federal Reserve will exit its monetary stimulus bit by bit as he urged emerging markets to prepare for a …

World Bank’s Kim: Invest in Disaster Prevention …
Bloomberg.com
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim talks about disaster aid, risk management and prevention. Kim, speaking with Betty Liu on Bloomberg …

No word yet on whether the World Bank will work to create a Great Issues course for the sophomore class at Dartmouth — an idea that Kim spoke about endlessly, but which he was unable to implement in two years and nine months in Hanover.

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