David Malpass, with Donald Trump, on February 6, 2019 at the White House / More Bank

David Malpass, with Donald Trump, on February 6, 2019 at the White House / More Bank

The White House has named David Malpass, 62, as the World Bank's presidential candidate, a controversial choice for Donald Trump's close acquaintance with his harsh criticism of international institutions.

David Malpass is "the right person to occupy this incredibly important position", "there could not be a better candidate," said Donald Trump while this appointment has been criticized even before its formalization.

The name of this head of the US Treasury, responsible for international affairs, had emerged as soon as the announcement in early January of the resignation of Jim Yong Kim, who joined the private sector.

The position of President of the World Bank is traditionally attributed to an American according to a tacit division of roles that wants the management of the other institution in Washington, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to return to a European.

It would thus require an unprecedented united front to prevent David Malpass from accessing the head of the World Bank.

"This is a great honor," said Malpass, noting his desire to continue efforts to better integrate women into the economy and refocus the World Bank's mission on the poorest.

The Trump administration felt there was no reason to question the profile of David Malpass, who has long experience in international affairs, citing his participation in the G7 and G20 meetings.

For the time being, other candidates representing other Member States have not been revealed.

The World Bank, which aims to reduce global poverty by funding development projects, will officially launch the applications on Thursday. Contestants will have until March 14 to file their case before a decision by mid-April.

The Washington institution said it was committed to "a transparent, open and merit-based selection process," promising to select a president based on objective criteria: solid leadership experience, leadership experience a large international organization or the sense of diplomacy and impartiality.

However, since its creation in 1944, nationality has been decisive in the final choice.

– Efficiency and reforms –

While David Malpass did not hesitate to publicly criticize, in 2017, the international institutions, judging them as spies, "not very effective" and "often corrupt in their lending practices", a senior US official on Wednesday swept critics according to which he would be hostile to multilateralism.

"David (Malpass) and the US government support (…) these organizations when they fully fulfill their mission and work effectively," said the official on condition of anonymity, highlighting the goal of providing assistance to developing countries "in a more efficient way".

"Sometimes it requires reform," he said, noting that it would be precisely Mr. Malpass's mission if he chaired the World Bank.

David Malpass pointed out that this opinion goes back to 2017 and that since then, the World Bank had adopted in 2018 reforms that go in the right direction.

Donald Trump recalled that the United States was the largest contributor to this institution, "more than a billion dollars each year" and that his administration should ensure that taxpayers' dollars are spent "intelligently".

David Malpass, for example, questioned the relevance of granting loans to China, the second largest economy in the world. "It makes no sense for higher-income countries to obtain resources from the bank when poorer countries could make better use of it, "he argued. He emphasized that he would ensure that this practice changes.

Many economists, including Nobel economist Paul Krugman, have decried the candidate, recalling his past errors of judgment.

David Malpass published in 2007, shortly before the outbreak of the real estate crisis, a forum in the Wall Street Journal ensuring that "the real estate market and debt do not play such an important role in the US economy" .

"The rest of the world holds 84% ​​of the voting rights at the World Bank, and it is entirely within their reach to block this inappropriate nomination," said Scott Morris of the Center for Global Development think tank.

Facing the United States, developing countries are currently moving in a disorganized manner, though with good candidates such as former Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo. Iweala, already candidate in 2012.

David Malpass, who says he does not know the name of his competitors, says "have already received many marks of support" without however wanting to name a country.

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