The World Bank: Opprobrium from the atrium

Development begins at home

THE fury would not have been much greater if anti-capitalist activists had taken over the vast atrium of the World Bank’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Yet the protesters who did so last month were the Bank’s own employees. The goodwill that first greeted the modernisation plans of Jim Yong Kim, the Bank’s president since 2012, has turned to rancour.Mr Kim (pictured) stressed the need for reform from the moment he took charge. He saw, correctly, that the Bank had to do things differently to remain relevant in a world with no shortage of the two things that used to guarantee it lots of business from the governments of poorer countries: cheap capital and economic expertise. In July the Bank started to implement a new structure which shifts power and money away from country and regional executives to some 14 centralised thematic “global practices” (water, health etc). On October 30th it announced 500 lay-offs over the next three years.Whether or not these changes are the right ones, they have not been well executed. Staff in the countries where the Bank operates, who used to be charged with looking for new…

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