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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 which 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 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. She might stay in the role for a while.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said Georgieva had been named CEO after Kim stepped down. She was already CEO. Sorry.

Go deeper

Updated 14 mins ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport when the gang abducted them in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro. Security forces placed six U.S. oil executives under house arrest later Saturday, per AP.

Kenosha shooting lawsuit accuses police of coordinating with militia

Police and protesters confront in front of the Kenosha County Courthouse on Aug. 25, 2020. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The only survivor of a fatal shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during protests last year has accused law enforcement in a lawsuit of conspiring with a "band of white nationalist vigilantes," the Washington Post reported Saturday.

Of note: Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, is due to stand trial on Nov. 1, accused of wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, who filed the suit, and killing two other people protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Aug. 25, 2020. He's pleaded not guilty to charges including homicide and attempted homicide and maintains he fired in self-defense.