World Bank nominee taking heat for criticizing corporate growth

March 27, 2012|By Jim Puzzanghera
  • Jim Yong Kim, president of Dartmouth College and President Obama's nominee to become president of the World Bank.
Jim Yong Kim, president of Dartmouth College and President Obama's… (Andrew Harrer / EPA )

Reporting from Washington — President Obama's nominee to head the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, is taking heat from some economists and others for past criticism of "corporate-led economic growth," which he said has come at the expense of the very poor.

“Dr Kim would be the first World Bank president ever who seems to be anti-growth,” William Easterly, an economics professor at New York University, told the Financial Times. “Even the severest of World Bank critics like me think that economic growth is what we want.”

Kim's comments came in a 2000 book he co-edited entitled, "Dying For Growth: Global Inequality and the Health of the Poor."

“The studies in this book present evidence that the quest for growth in GDP and corporate profits has in fact worsened the lives of millions of women and men," Kim wrote in the book's introduction.

A post on the NYU Development Research Institute website entitled "Some Not Entirely Typical Remarks by a World Bank President," included several other quotes critical of the quest for growth and profits over improvements in healthcare. Easterly is co-director of the institute.

On the neo-conservative website Commentary, a post said Kim "has some zany ideas about free markets, growth, and 'social equity.' "

"If recently found quotes from Kim’s published works are representative, Obama should have redirected his resume to the Human Resource Department of the Central Bank of Cuba," the post said.

But a post in the liberal Huffington Post said that Kim's views are in line with the World Bank's dual goals of boosting economic development and reducing poverty.

Kim, president of Dartmouth College, is a global health expert. He was a surprise choice by Obama to replace Robert Zoellick as president of the international financial institution.

The U.S. traditionally selects the World Bank president, and Obama's choice of Kim was seen as an attempt to appeal to developing nations, which have been pressing for more influence at the institution. Kim's background, including the comments in the book, could help him win backing from those countries.

In a sign of the importance of such support, Kim headed to Africa, Asia and Latin America on Tuesday on a nearly two-week "listening tour," the Treasury Department said.

Kim will meet with heads of state, finance ministers and others in Ethiopia, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Brazil and Mexico "to solicit their priorities for the World Bank over the coming years," Treasury said.


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