Malaysia Endorses Jeffrey Sachs

For the Presidency of the World Bank (site).

Differing from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank is often associated with matters of economic development – especially with regards to poverty reduction. Throughout its existence, it has received both flak and praises on an entire array of issues. One of thorny issues is the implicit agreement that the person running this institution “must” be an American – or at least backed by the United States. There has been a growing clamor for the selection process to be a little more inclusive, meritocratic and transparent. In a world where the developing nations are taking a larger burden in shaping the world’s agenda, it makes sense that they should at least have a shot at the top job. After all, they are still the major recipients of this institution’s work.

Source: here.

I don’t understand the politics behind Malaysia’s endorsement of Jeffrey Sachs, considering the candidate isn’t even the official choice of the United States (at least not yet) nor has he received many nominations himself. As of now, only three other nations have endorsed him: Kenya, Timor-Leste and Jordan (correct me if I missed any.) I would have expected Malaysia to go for Indonesia’s former Finance Minister, Sri Mulyani, who I personally think is a rather deserving candidate herself. There is an interesting site to visit if you’re interested in the ongoing race for the Presidency of the World Bank: World Bank President.

There are no qualms as to whether Jeffrey Sachs is qualified for the job – he is, though whether he’s the right person is an entirely different question altogether. It’s just that on a cursory glance, both the World Bank and the IMF face a growing challenge of legitimacy. Institutions of their sizes cannot claim to be the stalwart of the global interests if a majority of their clients feel that they have very little say on how things are run. Perspective and expectations matter in economic policy.

I would have opted for Lula (former President of Brazil) or Mulyani. Just because I think it’s time to have a breath of fresh air. That’s only my opinion.

After all, who listens to a low-fat-ketupat anyway? 🙂

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About lowfatketupat

The author is currently a senior at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, studying economics. He is quintessentially Malaysian – thus, perennially hungry. Passionate about anything Malaysian [especially food] and public service, he hopes to solicit thoughts from others on just about anything. He can be reached at ajwei89[at]gmail.com.

5 thoughts on “Malaysia Endorses Jeffrey Sachs

    • I believe Jeffrey Sachs works for Satan and is one of his disciples preparing the way for the Anti Christ. Listen to how he wants to destroy free agency.

  1. What is wrong with Jeffrey Sachs as the leader of World Bank? He is well renowned in the development economics field and he has great relationship with African leaders especially with regards to the Millennium Development Villages (though the success and scalability of the villages is a different question).

    I don’t see your point of questioning the logic of Malaysia’s endorsement of Sachs (except for the fact that Malaysia should probably support a fellow ASEAN candidate). Besides, the World Bank has most of its work focused in Africa (and that’s where most development efforts should be focused anyway) and a candidate from Indonesia or Brazil may not know what the development needs of Africa as well as Sachs.

    I don’t see why having a non-US candidate would make things better if the US candidate is a good choice.

    • Jeffrey Sachs is indeed a household name in the field of development economics. And as mentioned in the post, as far as his qualification goes, there’s hardly a debate as to whether he is fit to assume the position. I have a feeling that you misconstrued my post as a tacit opposition to Prof Sachs’ candidacy on those grounds. I am merely perplexed by Malaysia’s decision to support a candidate that isn’t yet officially endorsed by the United States. If it wanted to break ranks, I would have expected Malaysia to support someone from a developing country – considering Malaysia has voiced its desire for greater representation from those nations within institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF. It’s more in sync with its public position.

      However, having said that, I am a little iffy with regards to his stance on foreign aid and I’m not in favor of the World Bank moving in that direction. I prefer Lula or Mulyani not simply because they are from developing countries. It’s not just a matter of understanding the needs of developing nations (that’s the easier part). It’s also a matter of executing policies that requires an understanding of their client’s bureaucracy, which are more often grossly inefficient or corrupt. This is where the World Bank often gets tangled. A substantial bulk of the World Bank’s programs are not unilaterally imposed. They are enacted via cooperation with their clients. Both Lula and Mulyani have worked in those environments [and thrived] – a component that Prof Sachs doesn’t have. Not to mention, Sri Mulyani is already serving in the World Bank as one of the three Managing Directors.

      With respect to your concluding sentence, I think you miss the point. Most of the grenades lobbed at the World Bank isn’t at the outcome of the Presidency. Being a US-backed candidate isn’t the focal point of the opposition. Rather, it’s a matter of how it’s decided that puts people off. Most client states (which are mostly developing nations) want a more competitive process that gives a genuine shot to its equally deserving candidates, if not more. Under the current system, they are assured of none.

      • Well guess your reply is clearer than your initial post. Helps clarify your point of view.

        But I have to still disagree that a leader from a developing country is better suited to deal with other developing countries leaders as they better understand the inefficiency and corrupt nature of these governments. Every country is different and has different challenges with regards to inefficient bureaucracy or corruption. Each individual World Bank policy for it to be effective needs to be specifically tailored to address these challenges and reduce these inefficiencies. Policies that worked in Indonesia or Brazil might not work in Kenya, Chad or Burundi.

        With regards to World Bank undertaking unilateral programs, I don’t see how it can go solo. It needs the cooperation of each national governments to implement the programs.

        P/S – I’m actually more inclined towards William Easterly’s point of view of development economics through free markets than Jeffrey Sachs’ foreign aid view.

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