One of the unwritten but hard as concrete rules in the governance of the world’s two most important transnational financial institutions is that a European heads the International Monetary Fund and an American heads the World Bank. . .always.
But the Wolfowitz scandal is testing that norm and threatening to pull the supporting thread far enough on Wolfowitz and America’s implicit right to name his successor that serious repercussions could ensue in many other backroom arrangements between nation-state stakeholders over power and positions held in other international organizations.
Tonight, the New York Times reports that if the U.S. manages Wolfowitz’s exit expeditiously, Europe will continue to respect the status quo in American selection of the World Bank’s CEO.
This action is further indication that Wolfowitz’s tenure is probably going to be snipped to an early end soon — and other players are already being looked over. Some have reported that former Afghanistan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani is high on the list. While some reporters have noted that he would be the first non-American to head the World Bank if selected, some prominent journalists have told me that Ghani actually holds American citizenship. I don’t know which of these views is accurate.
Others who are being considered include Goldman Sachs Senior Adviser and former US Trade Representative and Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, incumbent Deputy Secretary of the Treasury and former US Ambassador to Germany Robert Kimmitt, and incumbent Israel Central Bank Governor and former First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Stanley Fischer.
— Steve Clemons