Donald Trump nominates World Bank critic David Malpass to lead global lender


David Malpass, has formally been confirmed as the U.S.’ choice to head the World Bank, U.S. President Donald Trump announced on February 6 afternoon.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter and adviser, led the search for the new World Bank president, a senior administration official told journalists on a briefing call on February 6.

Mr. Malpass, the undersecretary of the Treasury for international affairs, is a controversial candidate for the job, owing to his views on multilateralism, multilateral organisations including the World Bank.

“…Multilateralism has gone substantially too far — to the point where it is hurting U.S. and global growth.” Mr. Malpass had told the Council on Foreign Relations in 2017.

Mr. Malpass has been an advocate of a smaller, more focused World Bank, arguing that countries can raise capital in private markets. He has also been critical of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) as well as China being the largest customer of the Bank. In his role in the Treasury, Mr. Malpass has tried to slow the Bank’s ability down to raise capital, pushing the bank to adopt a new financial sustainability framework.

“This new framework is aimed at achieving financial discipline and avoiding future capital increase requests,” Mr. Malpass testified before Congress in November 2018.

“David and the United States government support [sic] when we are participating in these organisations and they are fulfilling their mission, they’re working efficiently and effectively. In fact the United States founded and built the World Bank and believe [sic] till today it’s an important institution for global growth and we continue to strongly support it…” the official said in response to questions on Mr. Malpass’s suitability for the job.

The U.S., which is the Bank’s largest investor, normally picks its president, with the Europeans picking the International Monetary Fund head.

“In this new role he will work towards broadly-shared growth in the countries that need it most and he will focus on building and expanding a robust middle class in emerging economies,” the official said.

“…Something that is very important to David [Malpass] is to remain committed to women’s economic empowerment and those issues he’s already been working on with Ivanka Trump in his current role and will continue working with her as he goes over to the World Bank…,” another senior administration official told the media on February 6.

The official said that Mr. Mnuchin has been “actively engaged” with his counterparts from other Bank shareholder countries on Mr. Malpass’ candidacy for the Bank and that his discussions have been taken into account in deciding to nominate Mr. Malpass. “Outreach will be on-going and continue… and we’re likely to see an increase over the next few weeks,” he said.

Mr. Trump introduced Mr. Malpass, describing his work under the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. The President called Mr. Malpass “a very extraordinary man”, adding, “he’s been with me for a long time, he’s been a supporter for a long time, supporter in a financial sense , even before I ran, he liked the job I did. I like those people somehow.”