From Wall Street to the City of London, the never-expected news Monday afternoon that World Bank President Jim Kim was resigning his position dealt a jolt to politics, financial markets, and the international press.
It has also opened the door to the scenario of President Donald Trump — long at odds with the World Bank over issues ranging from climate change to tax rates — tapping a highly controversial choice as Kim’s successor: stalwart conservative David Malpass, Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs and a close adviser to Trump since the 2016 presidential campaign.
Since the the Bretton Woods Monetary Conference created the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in 1947, leadership of the two financial titans has always been split between Europe and the U.S.
Under France’s Christine LaGarde, the position of IMF managing director is firmly in European hands. The successor to Kim — first tapped for the job by Barack Obama in 2012 and re-elected to a second five-year term in 2017 — will surely be a fellow American.
As press reports focused on differences between Kim and the Trump administration, talk in official Washington began to focus on the president naming Malpass to take over the World Bank.
A veteran of the Reagan and Bush-41 administrations and onetime chief economist for Bear Stearns, Malpass, 62, developed a close relationship with the president while serving as senior economic adviser to the Trump campaign in 2016. He has been a strong defender of such controversial programs of the Trump agenda as the hard lines on China and and on trade.
Malpass is also a vigorous champion of across-the-board tax cuts and has written extensively on the subject for Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. Working on Malpass’ behalf, as a leader in the international community, is his fluency in French, Russian, and Spanish.
The unbroken tradition of an American World Bank president notwithstanding, there has been a growing movement in recent years for someone from an emerging market country to run the organization that last year gave out $67 billion in funding for poorer nations.
Kim, born in South Korea and a nationalized U.S. citizen, had to overcome opposition from candidates from Columbia and Nigeria when first tapped for the presidency in 2012.
Should a candidate as controversial as Malpass carry the U.S. standard, it appears a foregone conclusion that another such candidate from an emerging market country will raise a strong challenge. Kim’s successor will be chosen by the 189 member-countries who are represented by a Board of Governors that meets once a year.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.