Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Weekly Anecdotes-International Organizations Acronyms: WB

1. WB: The World Bank

"Why is the World Bank called the World Bank when its Presidents have always been American since its inception in 1944?" I wondered. "Why don't they just simply call it the American Bank for International Development?" Then we'd not have any illusions about its true agenda.

"Spoils of war"...(WWII) is how I would prefer to refer the Bretton Woods Organizations. Yes, yes, I acknowledge, these organizations did contribute a great deal to the development of our modern global economy as it is today...but... I think after six decades we can start to ask, "How long are we still going to live in the shadows of one of humanity's darkest moments?" I'm all for learning from history, but really, do we want to eternally keep tying the way we think of ourselves to our worst moments? 

Then there's also the question, "To whom do the benefits accrue? To the so-called developed countries or to the developing countries whose help it was to be committed to?" Or I could even be more to the point and say, "To the country that doesn't even attempt to search around for its best and brightest to appoint as this organization's head?"

These questions came up to me when I started looking closely at the World Bank's declared raison d'être and changing realities of the global economy. It's been only 10 years since China joined the club (WTO) as a world trading partner that agrees to follow the sanctioned rules of international trade. In 2011, she surpasses the US as world manufacturer. In her 2nd decade after joining the club, she is expected to overtake the US to become the world's largest economy. Even if things go bust, and she doesn't make it by 2020, there's still 2030, according to our esteemed World Bank. By 2040, the citizens of China could well be richer than the citizens of Europe at the present moment.

So if the World Bank is supposed to represent its member countries by their sizes of economies, I couldn't help but wonder, "Can we expect a Chinese national as President of the World Bank in five years?" Not realistically.  Even if the World Bank would adjust its voting rights again so soon, along the lines of its 2010 WB voting rights adjustment, China could m-a-y-b-e earn around 8% of voting rights compared to US's 15%. Hmm, still not the decision makers there obviously. Don't even mention that China could influence international politics hard enough to have the US and EU change its de facto agreement concerning the appointment of WB's presidency. Well, I suppose I can still hope that the World Bank will continue its internal reform and search for the best and brightest, even among Americans, for the next World Bank President. 

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