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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

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  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.

4 hours ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.