Money Matters - Simplified

Jim Yong Kim Named New World Bank Chief

Though Kim lacks the experience in finance and diplomacy of past presidents, he believes his background as a physician will help in his new role as chief of World Bank.

Jim Yong Kim, the new chief of the World Bank says the best way to combat global poverty and create lucrative job opportunities for people is to focus on market based growth.

The Korean-American physician was selected by the Bank’s 25-member executive board Monday over Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

The 52-year old health expert and educator was the US's preferred candidate.

Kim who is currently president of Dartmouth College will succeed the departing Bank chief Robert Zoellick and start serving a five year term as president beginning July 1st.

Physician and educator
Unlike his predecessors, Kim is not a politician, a banker or a diplomat. A trained physician and anthropologist, Kim has worked to bring health care to developing countries, whether it is combating tuberculosis in Haiti and Peru or dealing with HIV/AIDS among Russian prisons. He also advised the World Health Organization on of AIDS/HIV.

Many critics have openly questioned his credentials maintaining that the selection was politically motivated and not based on merit.

Though Kim lacks the experience in finance and diplomacy vis a vis past presidents, he believes his background as a physician will help in his new role as chief of World Bank.

Kim told the BBC, "I am a physician. Physicians work on evidence, rather than working from a single ideology, rather than working from a particular political point-of-view.

"If we can focus on the evidence of what is actually working and adapt those evidence-based interventions to local context, I think we can be very successful."

Despite facing criticism from some quarters, Kim has his fair share of supporters.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner stated, "I welcome today's decision by the World Bank Board of Directors to select Dr. Jim Yong Kim as the institution's next president. Dr. Kim has a lifetime of experience solving complex problems.

"His deep development background coupled with his dedication to forging consensus will help breathe new life into the World Bank's efforts to secure fast economic growth that is widely shared."

And outgoing president Mr Zoellick added, "Jim has seen poverty and vulnerability first-hand, through his impressive work in developing countries.

"His rigorous, science-based drive for results will be invaluable for the World Bank Group as it modernizes to better serve client countries in overcoming poverty."

Andrew Mitchell, British secretary of state for international development, said, "As the first development professional to head the World Bank, Jim Kim's considerable experience will be vital as he leads it through its ambitious reform and modernization program.”

Mark Weisbrot of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research in Washington stated, "There's just no comparison between him and any of the prior World Bank presidents.

"The others were political insiders. They spent most of their lives getting rich or becoming politically powerful, or worse. Kim, by contrast, has spent most of his life trying to improve the lives of poor people."