US choice Jim Yong Kim is new World Bank chief

Jim Yong Kim Dr Kim will take up his post on 1 July

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US nominee Jim Yong Kim has been chosen as the new president of the World Bank.

The Korean-American health expert is president of Dartmouth College in the US state of New Hampshire.

He faced a strong challenge for the post, which has traditionally gone to an American, from Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Dr Kim will succeed Robert Zoellick, serving a five-year term beginning on 1 July, the World Bank said in a statement.

Aged 52, Jim Yong Kim is a doctor lauded for his pioneering role in treating HIV/Aids and reducing the impact of tuberculosis in the developing world.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the new president's background would be valuable in the role.

"His deep development background coupled with his dedication to forging consensus will help breathe new life into the World Bank's efforts to secure fast economic growth that is widely shared," Mr Geithner said in a statement.

And outgoing president Mr Zoellick added: "Jim has seen poverty and vulnerability first-hand, through his impressive work in developing countries.

"His rigorous, science-based drive for results will be invaluable for the World Bank Group as it modernises to better serve client countries in overcoming poverty."

Andrew Mitchell, UK international development secretary and a governor of the World Bank Group, said that "as the first development professional to head the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim's considerable experience will be vital as he leads it through its ambitious reform and modernisation programme".

Meanwhile, the bank hailed the selection process as competitive, saying that the challenge posed by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, as well as by Colombian candidate Jose Antonio Ocampo, would benefit the institution in the long run.

The three candidacies had "enriched the discussion of the role of the president and of the World Bank Group's future direction", the World Bank said.

'New kind of leader'

By convention, the US has always held the top job at the World Bank since it was founded in 1944.


Once again the American candidate has got the job. But he is not in the traditional pattern; neither a politician nor a financier.

He is, as President Obama emphasised when he announced the nomination, a development professional. He is an expert on health issues in the developing world, especially HIV/Aids and tuberculosis.

Those issues are important at the Bank, but it does have a wider, economic development brief. Dr Kim does not have much of a track record in that area. Still, his admirers say he brings a real commitment to alleviating poverty and he is a great listener.

In fact, he was busy listening when his appointment was announced. He is in Peru hearing what one of the Bank's member countries wants from the agency he is about to lead.

The top job of its sister organisation, the International Monetary Fund, has also always gone to a European but there has been much pressure from emerging economies to open the processes of both organisations to competition.

This year's vote was the first time the World Bank had to choose between candidates since its creation more than 60 years ago.

Mr Ocampo announced on Friday that he was withdrawing from the race and supporting Ms Okonjo-Iweala.

The World Bank did not provide details of the final vote or which country had backed which candidate.

Dr Kim will oversee a staff of 9,000 economists and development experts, and a loan portfolio that hit $258bn (£163bn) last year.

Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington suggested Dr Kim would make a very different kind of leader.

"There's just no comparison between him and any of the prior World Bank presidents," he said.

"The others were political insiders. They spent most of their lives getting rich or becoming politically powerful, or worse. Kim, by contrast, has spent most of his life trying to improve the lives of poor people."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    Kim is selected as World Bank President the way George W Bush was selected to become US President! Ladies and gentlemen give a standing ovation to the joke of the century!...

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Common BRICS, build an alternative to this World Bank, IMF, WHO
    Instead of parking your extra cash in American treasury bills, build a bank. Someone has to stoP this western lunatics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    79. Steve in Hungary 11 MINUTES AGO Ah! Editors' Picks! 71 comments and only two chosen for publication. Smacks of censorship, you know

    You might be right.
    You might be a paranoid.

    Or maybe the quality of comments is so low, only a couple made the grade.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    ah yes, banks owning water companies, how about German's and Americans owning our power stations, and no longer wanting to invest!! Only people keen to invest in the Uk is India, Russia and China,, we must be doing something right

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    Great candidate - All American, but with a name that suggests he is not. So, all media announcements will sound as if there is an international approach.Anyone heard of a non-American in charge of one of the most influential financial organisations?

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    So a highly respected individual with a proven genuine desire to help those less fortunate than us gets made the head of the world bank. And still 3/4 of the comments scream US conspiracy and berate the man. Take off the tin-foil hats ppl and read about he stands for...

    I for one am glad that this organisation is not being headed by another greedy financial type. Let's see what he can do first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Ah! Editors' Picks! 71 comments and only two chosen for publication. Smacks of censorship, you know

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Did Frankie Boyle write this? "Health expert" versus Nigerian(!) finance minister?!!!! I mean to say, Conrad Black would have won that one. Had Dali portrayed it, it would be a masterpiece of surrealism. The only thing reassuringly predictable, and stable is that once again, the US have ensured that there'll be no progress unless it benefits them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Health expert in charge of banks, banks owning water companies, you couldn't make it up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    "Sorry, but would it be ignorant of me to ask why exactly a health expert is being given one of the top financial management posts? is that an odd thing to ask? you know... why not someone with experience in finance?"

    Remember health experts are being asked to do the same in this country, despite their own objections. Maybe he didn't want to do it. :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    Dr. Kim has set up numerous foundations to help the impoverished. His childhood was spent in central Iowa and hopefully he will use the sensibility that comes with that to carryout his new appointment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    I hope one day Africa or South America or any developing country will be able to nominate the World Bank chief. I have no idea why America has to nominate all the time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    the short list for the top job at the world bank was pitiful; did you know the UK government spends a fortune on tracking down and bringing to justice Nigerian gangs who defraud the tax payer in the UK; They make a serious living out targeting poor folk in other countries, so who needs the help...problem the best candidates for the world bank would not want the job, they do not get paid enough!

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    will this guy stop getting the usa to print money, then make the poor pay a %.. i dont think so.. its just another con, he should be wearing a balck and white jumper

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    as a Nigerian this can only be a positive. Hopefully Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala can use her apparent proficiency to steer Nigeria in the right direction

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Figures. Why does anyone bother? Ignorant yanks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    An inspired choice for candidate by President Obama. Dr. Kim cares deeply about the monstrous socioeconomic inequities in our world and has worked for decades to change things for the better. Whether he can change an organisation who's only mandate thus far has been to screw the developing (sic) world to make more money for the first world ielite is another matter. At least he will try.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    This is an interesting article about the rampant abuse and alcoholism
    on the campus that Dr. Kim presides over. Interesting that he has done nothing about the problem. A typical Obama appointment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Sorry, but would it be ignorant of me to ask why exactly a health expert is being given one of the top financial management posts? is that an odd thing to ask? you know... why not someone with experience in finance?

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.


    "@38 - Sounds like you were the one that didn't read it. The article does not mention the sex of the Nigerian finance minister."

    Yes it does, it prefixes her name with "Mrs" which denotes female gender.

    "Meanwhile, the bank hailed the selection process as competitive, saying that the challenge posed by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala..."



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