World Bank Vets One of its Key Critics, David Malpass, to Take the Helm

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David Malpass, Under Secretary for International Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is expected to take the helm at the World Bank on February 1, 2020, pending approval by the Bank’s 12-member board. (Photo: REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian)

The World Bank Board Executives on Thursday, March 14, 2019, announced that David Malpass, a U.S. national and Under Secretary for International Affairs, U.S. Department of the Treasury will undergo vetting by the bank’s Executive Board before he will be allowed to take the helm as president of the institution for the next five years.

Malpass, if approved, will succeed Jim Yong Kim, who is stepping down as the Bank’s president after more than six years in that post. Mr. Kim is expected to leave on February 1, 2020, to join a firm involved in infrastructure investment in developing countries.

According to a statement issued by the World Bank, Malpass was the only candidate nominated for that position.

Malpass, a Trump loyalist and veteran of the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, has had sharp words for several policies at the World Bank, including its loans to China.

He has also long expressed skepticism of global institutions.

“An incorrigible arsonist will now be our fire chief,” W. Gyude Moore, Liberia’s former Minister of Public Works tweeted a in February. “Man spends his adult life denigrating multilateralism and now has the ‘pleasure’ of running one of its pillars.”

Malpass has been heavily involved in U.S.-China negotiations over trade in recent months.

“The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors confirmed that, as announced on January 10, the period for submitting nominations for the position of the next President of the World Bank closed on Thursday, March 14 at 9:00 am Eastern Time (ET),” the bank said.

Malpass, 62, Treasury’s undersecretary for international affairs, would need to be approved by the World Bank’s 12-member board before becoming its president. In accordance with the procedures previously announced, the Executive Directors will conduct a formal interview of the candidate in Washington D.C. during the coming days.

By an unwritten tradition since the bank’s founding in 1944, the board has always chosen Washington’s nominee. The Europeans, in turn, have determined the head of the International Monetary Fund.

During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Malpass served as an economic advisor to Donald Trump, and in 2017, he was nominated and confirmed as the undersecretary for international affairs in the United States Department of the Treasury.

As Under Secretary, Mr. Malpass represents the United States in international settings, including the G-7 and G-20 Deputy Finance Ministerial, World Bank-IMF Spring and Annual Meetings, and meetings of the Financial Stability Board, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

He is the principal advisor to the Secretary on international economic issues and is responsible for managing policy experts across 20 offices within the Treasury Department.

In 2018, Mr. Malpass successfully advocated for the World Bank’s capital increase as part of a larger reform agenda featuring improved monitoring and evaluation of World Bank lending, more efficient use of capital, and a focus on improving living standards in poor countries.

He was also instrumental in advancing the Debt Transparency Initiative, recently adopted by the World Bank and IMF, to increase public disclosure of international debts and thereby reduce the frequency and severity of crises in developing countries.

Prior to becoming Under Secretary, Mr. Malpass was an international economist and founder of a macroeconomics research firm based in New York City.

Mr. Malpass served as chief economist of a large international financial institution and conducted financial analyses of countries around the world.

He was a columnist for Forbes and a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal.

During the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Mr. Malpass served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Developing Nations and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Economic Affairs, respectively.

In these roles, he focused on an array of the economic, budget, and foreign policy issues, including the 1986 tax cut, the Latin American debt crisis, and the Administration’s involvement in multilateral institutions, including the World Bank.

He also served as Senior Analyst for Taxes and Trade at the Senate Budget Committee and as Staff Director of the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress.

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