Trump Taps Treasury Official as World Bank Head

David Malpass has criticized the bank's lending policies, raising concerns that he has been selected to push "a U.S.-policy-driven agenda.”
Matthew HellerFebruary 7, 2019
Trump Taps Treasury Official as World Bank Head

President Donald Trump has named David Malpass, a Treasury official who has been critical of the World Bank’s lending policies, as the U.S. candidate to lead the bank.

The World Bank is accepting names until March 14 and plans to create a shortlist of up to three candidates for interviews. An American has been president of the institution since it was created in the 1940s.

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Malpass was a senior economic adviser to Trump during the 2016 election campaign and has served as the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for international affairs since August 2017. In announcing his nomination on Wednesday, Trump said he has “been a strong advocate of accountability at the World Bank for a long time.”

With the U.S. being the bank’s largest shareholder, Trump said Malpass would ensure taxpayer dollars were well spent, and that he would focus on people living in extreme poverty and empowering women from across the globe.

But supporters of the bank’s role questioned how effective Malpass would be in fulfilling the World Bank’s goals.

“There are others who are by most objective metrics more qualified” to lead the bank, Douglas Rediker, who represented the U.S on the executive board of the International Monetary Fund from 2010 to 2012, told The New York Times. “That suggests a political agenda by the Trump administration to put someone in to address a U.S.-policy-driven agenda.”

Malpass, 62, has criticized the World Bank, along with other institutions such as the IMF, for being “intrusive” and “entrenched” and also pushed the bank to reduce its lending to China.

On Wednesday, he insisted that he believes in the World Bank’s mission. “I’ve been a constructive force for development and for developing countries,” he told reporters. “I think the bank is well positioned to be a positive contributor to that.”

But Scott Morris, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, said Malpass “will have a lot of work to do to convince other shareholders that he is prepared to move beyond his past statements and track record when it comes to the World Bank’s agenda.”