The World Bank: Changing Leadership and Issues for the United States and Congress

Publication Date: March 2005

Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service


Research Area: Banking and finance



The decision of World Bank President James Wolfensohn to resign in May 2005 has triggered the search for a successor. Although any member of the World Bank Executive Board can propose a candidate for election by a majority vote of members, tradition dictates that the United States selects the President at the World Bank and Europe chooses the International Fund Managing Director. Although there is repeated criticism of this arrangement, and actual proposals to change the system have been considered, it is unlikely that this tradition will be abandoned during the current selection process. The focus of the next World Bank President likely will be on many development issues including global humanitarian and reconstruction assistance and debt relief for the poorest countries, among others. Congress has a significant role in shaping U.S. policy at the World Bank through funding arrangements and oversight responsibility. This report will be updated as events warrant.