In international finance circles, Michael Mussa is a legendary figure who used to work at the thin air levels at the International Monetary Fund. For those interested, Mussa’s story is in one of the few real page-turners on international finance I have read, The Chastening: Inside the Crisis that Rocked the Global Financial System and Humbled the IMF by Paul Blustein.
Mussa is judicious, non-partisan, and seriously respected. He articulated yesterday what most think about World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz’s situation — whether they blame him or not for various misdeeds.
“The way he can make the strongest contribution to the bank is by resigning,” said Michael Mussa, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund and now a fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “When you get to that stage, it doesn’t matter how you got to that situation.”
I have no inside information on whether Wolfowitz will resign tomorrow or Friday — but nearly everyone engaged in this game thinks Wolfowitz can’t win at this point — particularly after the White House essentially washed its hands of his fate yesterday.
If I were advising Wolfowitz — since his press advisor Kevin Kellems is on his way out — I’d encourage a late in the day resignation on Friday just to sidestep much of the news cycle and catch the weekend shows off guard. That’s not what I want — but a smart player would play a bad hand that way.
— Steve Clemons