With World Bank president James Wolfensohn slated to step aside June 1, the U.S. is considering candidates for his successor. (Traditionally, the U.S. chooses the bank's president, while Europe selects the head of the International Monetary Fund.) Earlier this week, rumor had it that the White House might propose Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz for the job.
Wolfensohn's background is in investment banking and development, whereas Wolfowitz's detractors have said he lacks experience in international development. "The White House's consideration of Paul Wolfowitz for the presidency of the World Bank has again raised the question of what qualifications are required to head the world's leading development institution," wrote Andrew Balls and Edward Alden in Wednesday's Financial Times.
Both Wolfensohn and the Pentagon issued statements this week indicating that Wolfowitz's appointment is unlikely (though Washington rumors insist otherwise). But even if he's out of the running, the other prominent candidate doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. The White House is also said to be bypassing popular suggestions Colin Powell and Bill Clinton to put recently deposed Hewlitt-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina at the top its short list. Fiorina's appointment sounds like a seriously bad idea: She can hardly claim to have experience in international development (or, for that matter, sound financial management), and her unpopularity has grown legendary.
In brighter news, there's always Bono. Yes, Bono. The L.A. Times recently named the man in the wraparound shades as its pick for World Bank president. Sure, Bono lacks a number of key credentials: a PhD in economics, experience in international development, a last name. But, the Times argued, the presence of a charismatic figurehead might change the World Bank for the better. And judging by the White House's current list of candidates, there's plenty of room left for that.