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David Malpass
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/E. Vucci

David Malpass approved as new World Bank president

April 5, 2019

David Malpass, a critic of global financial institutions, has been approved as the new president of the World Bank. Critics say his past economic positions make him unqualified for the post.


The World Bank's executive board on Friday unanimously approved David Malpass as the development bank's 13th president.

The 63-year-old senior US Treasury official begins his 5-year term as head of the World Bank on Tuesday, replacing former President Jim Yong Kim following his unexpected departure three years before the end of his term.

Malpass, who had joined Donald Trump's presidential campaign as an economic adviser, was serving as the Treasury's under-secretary of international affairs.

Read more: Global debt on the rise, Africa hit hardest 

Malpass has been a critic of the World Bank and its sister organization, the International Monetary Fund. He has deemed the global lending institutions' lending practices "corrupt” and complained that China received too many loans at the expense of poorer countries with limited access to credit markets.

Bank critic to promoter

However, while at the Treasury Malpass helped win support last year for a $13 billion (€11.6 billion) funding increase for the bank and played a role in advancing a debt transparency initiative.

In a letter to World Bank staff after his selection on Friday, Malpass noted that 700 million people live in extreme poverty and many people were not seeing their living standards improve. 

Read more: Dams: Clean power, sullied legacy 

"Faced with these challenges, our twin goals of eliminating extreme poverty and achieving shared prosperity are more relevant than ever," Malpass wrote. "The Bank Group is strong financially and well equipped with the tools and talent to achieve measurable successes."

The right choice? 

Critics say Malpass is unqualified, pointing to his failure to foresee the 2008 global financial crisis and his opposition to Federal Reserve policies that ultimately helped avoid a global depression.

Malpass worked as the chief economist at Bear Sterns when the investment bank tanked during the financial crisis. 

Since the foundation of the global financial institutions following World War II, an American has always headed the World Bank, while a European has led the International Monetary Fund.

cw/jm (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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