For the first time since the World Bank's creation at the end of World War II, the United States is facing a real challenge over the bank's leadership. Leaders of some developing and emerging economies have refused to support President Obama's unexpected choice of Jim Yong Kim, the president of Dartmouth College, to lead the bank.
As the bank's executive board prepares to vote on April 18, the Americans are likely to get their way, since an 85 percent supermajority of the bank's voting shares are needed to appoint a president, and the United States is the largest shareholder. But the controversy is not going away. The Economist and Financial Times have endorsed Dr. Kim's main competitor, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, an economist who is Nigeria's finance minister and a former managing director of the bank. José Antonio Ocampo, a former Colombian finance minister and high-ranking United Nations official, has also been put forward as an alternative. Petitions are circulating among former bank officials and economists supporting the alternatives to Dr. Kim.