Trump nominates World Bank critic as its next chief

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President Trump on Wednesday said he would nominate David Malpass, the Treasury Department undersecretary for international affairs and a critic of the modern development finance system, to be next president of the World Bank.

If approved by the World Bank’s board of directors, Malpass would lead the international lender’s efforts to fund economic development projects in poor and middling countries.

Malpass, the administration’s financial development ambassador, was among Trump’s top candidates and an early favorite to replace outgoing World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, who announced last month he’d be leaving the bank before his term expires.

{mosads}Trump hailed Malpass as “highly respected, brilliant” and a “very special man” during a Wednesday news conference at the White House announcing his nomination. Politico, followed by other media outlets, first reported Trump’s decision to pick Malpass on Monday.

“I knew that David was the right person to take this very important job,” Trump said, adding there was “no better candidate” to lead the World Bank.

Malpass has more than four decades of financial policy experience in the federal government and private sector. He previously served in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and as chief economist for the now-defunct investment titan Bear Stearns.

Malpass thanked Trump for the “incredible honor” of being chosen to lead the World Bank and touted his successful negotiation to implement reforms at the bank in exchange for a capital increase.

“I’m very optimistic that we can achieve breakthroughs that will help us create growth abroad,” Malpass said.

Trump chose Malpass through a process led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the president’s daughter, White House advisor Ivanka Trump.

Mnuchin called Malpass an “excellent choice,” while Ivanka praised the nominee’s support for an initiative she started with the World Bank to fund female entrepreneurs in countries with few female businessowners.

The U.S. is the largest shareholder among the more 170 countries that pool their resources for the World Bank and has chosen each of its presidents since the lender opened in 1945. But Malpass’ fierce criticism of the World Bank and similar institutions could spark a fight over the bank’s future and end that precedent.

Malpass has argued that “globalism and multilateralism have gone substantially too far,” and said international lenders like the World Bank failed to accomplish their goals.

“They spend a lot of money. They are not very efficient. They are often corrupt in their lending practices, and they don’t get the benefit to the actual people in the countries,” Malpass told the House Financial Services Committee at 2017 hearing. “They get the benefit to the people that fly in on a first-class airplane ticket to give advice to the government officials.”

Malpass’s defenders say his critical eye will help bring sorely needed reforms to the World Bank. In a Wednesday telephone briefing with reporters, a senior administration official called Malpass “a happy warrior and champion of pro-growth policies.”

“The goal is the ensure that these institutions serve their targets, in this case developing countries,” the official said. “Sometime that requires real reform.”

Malpass is one of Trump’s chief negotiators with the Chinese government as administration and Beijing seek a deal to end an 11-month trade battle. The senior administration official said Malpass will continue to work on trade issues until he’s confirmed by the World Bank board.

Malpass’s confirmation would also require his son, Robert, to leave the World Bank. The younger Malpass has offered to step down from his job at the bank in order to comply with rules banning close relative from both being employed at the lender, according to the Financial Times.

Updated 2:39 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Ivanka Trump Steven Mnuchin
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