David Malpass in Beijing on January 7, 2019 / More Bank

David Malpass in Beijing on January 7, 2019 / More Bank

David Malpass, a member of the Trump administration, a former Wall Street economist, is expected to be officially designated Wednesday as the US candidate to chair the World Bank, an institution he has repeatedly criticized but which since its origins was always headed by an American.

"The Trump administration informed yesterday (Monday) the G7 countries (Germany, Canada, United States, France, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom) have chosen David Malpass" as a candidate for the United States, said on Tuesday. More Bank a source close to the file. And "it would be very surprising that Donald Trump changes candidate at the last moment".

The US president will make his announcement Wednesday at 18:30 GMT from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, said the latter in a statement.

Mr Malpass's choice would signal the Trump administration's commitment to changing the way the Bretton Woods institution for development assistance functions.

It would also illustrate its policy of appointing very critical people to head administrations or organizations. The latest example is the Tuesday designation, headed by the Environmental Protection Agency, of a former coal lobbyist.

The World Bank, whose mission is to reduce global poverty, is officially to launch Thursday the application process, which will last until March 14 before a designation expected by mid-April.

It ensures that the selection is transparent, open and based on merit. But since Tuesday, a name comes back everywhere: David Malpass.

The 62-year-old Undersecretary for International Affairs is known to have blamed the World Bank in Congress in 2017, accusing him of "continuing to lend large sums of money to countries" like China, the world's second-largest economy.

He had not hesitated to accuse international institutions of spending "a lot of money", of "not being very efficient" and of being "often corrupted in their lending practices".

However, in April 2018, Malpass also endorsed the institution's $ 13 billion capital increase to finance the poorest countries.

The World Bank expects suitors to succeed Jim Yong Kim, an American of South Korean descent who has resigned before the end of his term, a solid leadership experience in a large international organization, the sense of diplomacy and 'impartiality.

But beyond these criteria, an American has always been appointed head of the World Bank since its creation in 1944 and a European at the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), according to a sharing of roles increasingly contested by emerging countries.

"This time, the whole question is whether the Europeans – who do not want a pro-Trump – are ready not to support the American candidate and therefore to reshuffle the cards by taking the risk of losing the direction IMF when Christine Lagarde will go, "sums up a European source.

Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the IMF, in doubt. "They still need" the IMF, he believes, especially as European countries are not immune to a new crisis in Greece.

He also argues that they are all the more willing to make concessions as the President of the World Bank – appointed for a renewable five-year term – is less influential than the IMF Managing Director.

– A desaster? –

Faced with the United States, developing countries seem to be moving in a disorganized way, though with good candidates such as former Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati or former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala , already candidate in 2012.

But for now, all eyes are on the Trump administration, which must reveal his foal Wednesday.

Even before his official nomination, David Malpass was provoking a volley of virulent criticism. In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Nobel economist and columnist Paul Krugman of the New York Times recalled his errors of judgment before the financial crisis of 2008.

"David Malpass would be a disaster, a toxic choice," tweeted on January 31 Tony Fratto, former spokesman for the White House under George W. Bush.

On the contrary, says the White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, Mr. Malpass "would be a great choice". "Excellent" even, tweeted the president's son, Donald Trump Junior.

Mohamed El-Erian, chief economist of the Allianz group, on November 7, 2014 in Paris / More Bank / Archives

Mohamed El-Erian, chief economist of the Allianz group, on November 7, 2014 in Paris / More Bank / Archives

Against David Malpass, Mohamed El-Erian, chief economist of the European insurance group Allianz, auditioned last week, would be more consensus. This respected economist has three nationalities: American, Egyptian and French.

Justin Sandefur of the Center for Global Development urged other nations to exercise their free will. "It's a simple majority vote," he said. And the United States does not have a veto.

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