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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The presidency of the World Bank — the most powerful job in international development — is up for grabs, in the wake of the surprise resignation of Jim Yong Kim.

Why it matters: Kim's departure puts the Trump administration in a tough position. It can nominate an internationally acceptable globalist to the job or face rejection as the world selects a non-American to head the bank for the first time in its history.

Less than a year ago, Kim said he was "completely committed to my job at the World Bank Group" after reportedly being approached to be president of Harvard. That was then. No one knows why Kim quit so suddenly (although rumors are swirling), but the vacuum caused by his departure is likely to create an international diplomatic whirlpool that could prove very tough for Trump to navigate.

  • The president of the World Bank is elected by all the bank's member states, according (it says here) to an "open, merit-based and transparent" process. So far, American men have always prevailed in that process, in accordance with the gentlemen's agreement under which the head of the IMF is always European and the head of the World Bank is always American. Essentially, the Europeans and Americans scratch each others' banks, and everybody else merely spectates.
  • With Trump in the White House, the Europeans have never been less inclined to scratch the Americans' back. If Trump were to nominate a well-qualified candidate like Indra Nooyi, then they would probably go along with the nomination, just because cooperative game theory has worked well for them to date.
  • On the other hand, there's no way Europeans would vote for a unilateralist Bannonite (John Bolton, say), and there's even less chance they would vote for Ivanka Trump, who helped launch the new World Bank women's entrepreneurship fund. Were Trump to nominate someone unacceptable to the Europeans, then the field would be wide open for other qualified candidates to seize the day. Former World Bank managing directors Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Sri Mulyani Indrawati would both make excellent presidents.

The ball is now in Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's court. He has three options.

  1. Start having quiet conversations with his European counterparts about mutually acceptable American candidates, and nominate someone he knows will receive an easy confirmation.
  2. Nominate an American populist who will almost certainly fail to win the bank presidency, allowing Trump to rail even more against the globalist elite.
  3. Do nothing, and allow the very qualified Kristalina Georgieva, Kim's interim replacement, to stay in the role indefinitely. She's Bulgarian and is entirely acceptable to the Europeans.

Go deeper

Teachers across the U.S. protest laws restricting racism lessons

Thousands of teachers and other educators held protests across the U.S. Saturday against the actions of "at least 15 Republican-led states" that aim to restrict teaching about racism in class, the Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: There were demonstrations in at least 22 cities for the "Day of Action" to raise awareness about moves to limit students' exposure to critical race theory, which links racial discrimination to the nation's foundations and legal system, per Axios' Russell Contreras.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

Lawsuit challenging Houston Methodist's COVID vaccine mandate dismissed

Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

A federal judge on Saturday dismissed a lawsuit brought by 117 Houston Methodist staff over the hospital's policy requiring all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Why it matters: This is the first federal court ruling on a coronavirus vaccine mandate. Attorney Jared Woodfill, representing the plaintiffs, told KHOU 11 it's "the first battle in a long fight," as he vowed to file another lawsuit soon.

G7 leaders to announce plan to phase out gasoline cars

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson talks next to President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, England, on Saturday. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

G7 leaders are set to outline Sunday a range of measures to tackle climate change, including "ending almost all direct government support" for fossil fuels and phasing out gasoline and diesel cars.

Driving the news: The plan was outlined in a British government announcement Saturday, which states that the leaders will also agree to halting "all unabated coal as soon as possible."