Zoellick Steps Down as Head of the World Bank: Jeff Sachs Applies

Jeff Sachs

Robert Zoellick, current head of the World Bank, has indicated that he will not seek reinstatement once his term finishes in June. Zoellick is famous for being part of the group which laid out the plan to invade Iraq and general right wing hawk. He succeeded the equally vile ex-Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Honestly, I don’t understand how a Republican Defense Secretary is in any way qualified to head an organization which has as it main goal the alleviation of world poverty.

Jeff Sachs, world famous development economist and savior of developing countries the world over has offered to take the job. (Check out a hilarious set of videos of Jeff Sachs gallavanting around the world with Angelina Jolie, here, here and here).

We could do worse. Larry Summers, Secretary of the Treasury under Clinton, advisor to Presidents Bush and Obama, former head of Harvard University and vocal adherent to the idea that men are inherently smarter than women (which he lost his job for).

Larry Summers was complicite in the final negotiations of the 1993 WTO Uruguay Round of trade talks, (the largest international trade agreement since GATT), and which ceded many international trading powers regarding develeoping countries to large (and US/British controlled) financial institutions like the WTO. African countries were largely unaware what they were signing when they signed on. During the Uruguay round, African countries largely ceded their ability to participate in trade resolutions and put control on international markets in the hand of big guns such as the United States. Larry Summers was on hand to threaten to take away foreign aid if they didn’t sign on.

It would be a disaster for the developing world if Larry Summers were to head the World Bank.

Hillary Clinton has long been pegged to be next in line for the chair of the World Bank, though she herself has been cagey on the issue.

I doubt Sachs will get the job, given the track record of the US in selecting World Bank heads in the past. The United States has reserved the right to name the head of the The World Bank since its inception, despite being an international institution. That Sachs is American might help, but his lack of shady Washington connections count him out. His alleged brief track record of neo-liberalism, particularly his controversial role in East European economic “shock therapy”, might help his case.

Still, Sachs is not without his supporters and his critics as a potential head of the World Bank. Unfortunately, his critics can seem to come up with any better candidates.

I respect the man’s work. There aren’t many out there that have been willing to be so vocally critical of US policy toward developing countries and its impact on human health. He makes his case in a manner that is understandable by even those not familiar with global health and world economics, and the video with Jolie clearly shows that he’s more than willing to take his case to the American public.

Uniquely, Sachs has been more than willing to take the Obama administration to task for it’s policy of doing absolutely nothing for global health. I had the pleasure of seeing Sachs speak at the last meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and spoke with him briefly afterward where I proceeded to ask him for a job. He laughed and kindly told me to email him.


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About Pete Larson

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Nagasaki University Institute for Tropical Medicine

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