The Not-So-Wolfowitz Bank

Was it just a little more than two years ago that we were slightly agog that the Bush administration was pushing Paul Wolfowitz to lead the World Bank? Indeed it was.

Since then, you may have heard, things at 18th and H Streets have not gone swimmingly. Downright pear-shaped of late. By my count, his Galbraith Score is now two, but I may be off.

These folks seem to be the go-to blog for World Bank inside scoop. I don’t think he’ll last. On the other hand, it’s not as if anyone the current US administration is likely to nominate will be received with wild enthusiasm, either Over Here, or at the Bank, or among the Bank’s clients, or…

Why reform has become a dirty word.

This anniversary guest post was written by the indispensable Jérôme Guillet, who normally writes for The European Tribune.

Laurence Parisot, the head of MEDEF, the French business
organisation, recently complained that:

There is one word who meaning for the public has changed in the past 25 years: “reform”. It used to be synonymous with progress, and now it means social regression.

One wonders why. Or not. As I’ve written incessantly over the past year at European Tribune (for instance here), “reform” has come to mean only one thing: less regulation of corporations, lower wages, fewer rights for workers, and weaker unions, i.e. the elimination of anything that can impede corporations’ freedom to make profits in the short term.
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The Wolfowitz Bank

Everybody ready for neo-con development politics?

President Bush said today he is nominating Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz to be the next president of the World Bank, tapping one of his administration’s most controversial figures as the U.S. choice to head the 184-nation institution.

Because, y’know, after engineering a military quagmire in Asia, Robert McNamara was such a smashing success at the World Bank…

Or will it be a Koch-Weser moment?

UPDATE: Bloomberg comes through with a bit of the agenda.

Under Wolfowitz, the Bush administration may now try to narrow the focus of the World Bank, returning the international lending institution to its roots of primarily financing large infrastructure projects and limiting the practice of handing out zero-interest loans, analysts such as Alan Meltzer, who led a 2000 congressional inquiry into the World Bank, said.

Tapped also has scuttlebutt from 17th & H; in short, Wolfowitz will be hated by the institution he is slated to run.

On Monday, I was in the audience when a reasonably senior US diplomat speculated on improvements in US-European relations. I thought to myself, well, things will get a hell of a lot better on Jan. 21, 2009.