Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 23 August 2019

Quicktake: what Trump's pick for World Bank president means

Nominee David Malpass has called major global organisations "intrusive"

Out-going World Bank President Jim Yong Kim's unexpected departure has provided the Trump administration with an opportunity to gain influence. AP
Out-going World Bank President Jim Yong Kim's unexpected departure has provided the Trump administration with an opportunity to gain influence. AP

The Trump administration notified World Bank shareholders on Monday that it plans to tap senior US Treasury Department official David Malpass as the nominee to lead the development lender as its new president, according to reports.

Who is David Malpass?

Mr Malpass, the Treasury’s undersecretary for international affairs, is a vocal sceptic of global organisations such as the World Bank, saying they “have grown larger and more intrusive” and “the challenge of refocusing them has become urgent and more difficult”, according to Politico, as US political media company, which first reported President Donald Trump's pick.

Last year, Mr Malpass helped create a new package of World Bank lending reforms that seek to transition middle-income countries to private sector lending and limit the bank's lending, emphasising sending resources to poorer countries instead and limiting World Bank staff salary increases.

Mr Malpass served as an economic adviser to Mr Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign. He was chief economist at investment bank Bear Stearns prior to its 2008 collapse and served at the Treasury and State Departments under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush.

What is the World Bank?

The institution's mission is to reduce global poverty by making loans. It committed nearly $64 billion to developing countries in the year ended June 30, with a sizeable portion flowing to China and India and loans made at record levels for human development and climate finance.

Why does the World Bank need a new president?

Former World Bank President Jim Yong Kim stepped down abruptly, effective February 1, three years before the end of his term. Mr Kim, first nominated by former US president Barack Obama in 2012, has diverging views with the Trump administration over climate change and development resources.

The Trump administration plans to announce its selection on Wednesday, officials told Politico, with nominations for Mr Kim's replacement to open Thursday and close March 14.

What are the next steps and why does this nomination matter?

The nomination of Mr Malpass would put a Trump loyalist and a sceptic of multilateral institutions in line to lead the World Bank.

Mr Malpass, or any other nominee, must gain approval from the World Bank’s 12-member executive board. The United States holds a controlling 16 per cent share of board voting power and has traditionally chosen the World Bank’s leader, but challengers - though unlikely - could emerge.

Mr Trump's nominee signals his administration is seeking greater control over the institution.

In the past two years, Mr Malpass has demanded the World Bank stop lending to China, which he says is too wealthy for such aid, illustrated by Beijing's “Belt and Road” infrastructure development programme, which has subjected some developing countries to insurmountable debt loads.

Updated: February 5, 2019 03:32 PM