WASHINGTON - Senior U.S. Treasury official David Malpass is on track to be named the next president of the World Bank after no other candidates emerged to challenge President Donald Trump's pick, according to several people familiar with the matter.
Countries have until 9 a.m. on Thursday in Washington to nominate candidates to lead the development lender. No nominees beside Malpass have been proposed, paving the way for the lender's executive board to appoint him in the coming weeks, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions are confidential.
While it's possible a country could have submitted a nomination in secret or a challenger could swoop in at the last minute, those scenarios are considered highly unlikely because candidates need to build public support for their appointment.
Trump nominated Malpass last month, choosing a loyalist who had been sharply critical of China and called for a shakeup of the global economic order. Critics including Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz questioned the selection, pointing to Malpass's doubts about international cooperation.
Before his nomination, Malpass portrayed the World Bank as too big, inefficient and reluctant to cut funding for developing countries that grow into dynamic emerging markets. He pushed the bank to lend less to China, arguing the world's second-biggest economy has the financial resources to support itself.
But since being nominated, Malpass has adopted a gentler tone, noting that he was America's lead negotiator on a package of reforms under which the bank will receive a $13-billion capital increase. Under the plan, the bank will focus more lending on lower-income countries.
The World Bank was conceived during the Second World War to finance the reconstruction of Europe, but its mission has evolved to focus on eliminating extreme poverty around the world. The selection process for the next president is being overseen by the bank's executive board, which represents its 189 member countries.
The board has said it wants to appoint the next president before the bank's spring meetings in Washington, which begin April 12.
Malpass would succeed Jim Yong Kim, who stepped down Feb. 1 to join an investment firm. Kristalina Georgieva, Chief executive officer of the bank, has been acting as the interim president.
Under an informal pact with Europe, the World Bank president has always been American, while the managing director of the International Monetary Fund has always been European. Some experts have called for the bank to break with tradition and appoint a non-American in recognition of the growing clout of emerging markets such as China and India, and the lender's focus on development.
While countries outside the U.S. wanted to see more competition for the job, governments were reluctant to nominate other candidates for fear of getting into conflict with the Trump administration, said a person briefed on the matter.
Malpass held senior posts at the Treasury and State department under Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. He served as chief economist at Bear Stearns, an investment bank that collapsed during the global financial crisis.
As Treasury undersecretary for international affairs under Trump, he represents the U.S. at international economic gatherings including G-20 summits and the IMF and World Bank meetings.
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