There has been a great deal of speculation on the topic of who President Bush should appoint to replace Paul Wolfowitz as the head of the World Bank. Tony Blair’s name has come up frequently. One wonders whether political skills are what is needed.
It has been suggested that, in addition to his romantic entanglement, part of Paul Wolfowitz’s problem was that he did not have the professional respect of the financial community needed to help him overcome the entrenched bureaucracy of the World Bank. Tony Blair would avoid the first problem, but not the second.
One man comes to mind as a nearly perfect fit for the World Bank: Lawrence Summers. Larry Summers has been a success as both an academician and as Secretary of the Treasury at the end of the Clinton administration.
Though he was ultimately forced out as president of Harvard University, the trouble he stirred up there was consistent with tough-minded independence and a near immunity to standard issue political correctness.
The recurring theme in Summers’ career has been a desire to follow empirical evidence in pursuit of the answers to very specific questions. He is in the top class of today’s economists.
To sum up, Summers has the credentials, undeniable bipartisan appeal, and the guts to take on the reform of an international organization ripe for it.
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