February 07, 2019

FT, do you really mean it?

FT, do you really mean that if David Malpass becomes president of the World Bank the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) dominated by China will become a worthier development bank than WBG?

Sir, in “US makes a poor choice for World Bank chief” February 7, you lash out that if David Malpass becomes president of the World Bank, that will lead to a “dysfunctional organisation that will encourage its activity to shift to other development banks, including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.” Really? Has this do to with David Malpass, or has this to do with someone else who is not to your liking?

In support of your doom you mention that Malpass’ “judgment even on economics, his supposed speciality, is wanting. Notoriously, as then chief economist at Bear Stearns, Mr Malpass was blithely confident about the strength of the US economy in 2007 — a year before the global financial crisis hit and his own employer went under” 

Sir, like many he had confidence in those AAA rated securities that SEC, which supervised investment banks in the US, allowed, based on recommendations of the Basel Committee, Bear Sterns to hold against only 1.6% in capital, to leverage over 62.5 times. I have not read much about you judging the regulators’ specialty wanting.

As for the World Bank you argue that its role is “providing global public goods such as managing scarce water supplies, combating pandemics and coping with the effects of climate change.”

No, its role is not to substitute for governments? The World Bank is a development bank, which means, at least in my book, its role is to help and assist financing countries to develop their own capacities to manage scarce water supplies, combate pandemics and cope with the effects of climate change.

Sir, you know I have a concern about the World Bank, namely that it does not object to the current risk weighted capital requirements for banks. I hold that it should, because risk taking is the oxygen of any development.

Who knows, perhaps someone who has seen first hand what happens if you trust what’s “safe” too much to be safe, might be exactly what the World Bank needs.