Barack Obama is scrambling to find a heavyweight US candidate to stand for the job of president of the World Bank, with the deadline for nominations looming.
Two credible developing country candidates – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Nigerian finance minister, and José Antonio Ocampo, the Colombian former finance minister and development economist – have already joined the race, together with the American economist Jeffrey Sachs, who has the backing of several developing countries.
The calibre of the field means the US won’t be able to stitch up the job, as is traditional, by handing it to a faceless White House bureaucrat or a favoured presidential lieutenant.
Instead, Obama has been casting around for a figure with the requisite gravitas to lead the international field. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has long been touted, but has denied that she wants the job, and is thought to want another shot at the presidency.
Larry Summers, the former treasury secretary and once an adviser to Bill Clinton, has the backing of his successor, Tim Geithner – but he is highly controversial with many in Europe and the developing world, because he is seen as an outspoken advocate of the deregulation that led to the financial crisis. Susan Rice, America’s ambassador to the UN, has clashed with China and Russia over the crisis in Syria. Rumours of other wildcard candidates, including PepsiCo boss Indra Nooyi – whose Indian origins might give her an edge with the Bric countries – and even Bill Gates, have been swirling in Washington.
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