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IMF AND WORLD BANK: Read my lips, says Jim Wolfensohn

World Bank president James Wolfensohn believes the Bank is becoming a more caring place, closer to the client it's trying to serve. One advanced management course includes a taste of poverty: living a week in a slum or village. Social aspects must match financial and macro concerns, he tells James Smalhout

High-wire act that changed the Bank

World Bank turns to guarantees

Seven-point plan to save the world

  "Corporate change takes a minimum of
five years ...
I believe we're
through the trough"

Is it true that Robert McNamara approached you, as he was preparing to leave the Bank in 1980, about becoming president and that you became an American citizen so that you could be considered for the job?

Bob submitted a number of names to president Carter to succeed him and he spoke to me and told me I was one of them. I had never previously given thought to this possibility although I was a huge admirer of Bob. It was discovered that you had to be an American citizen if you wanted to be president of the bank. So, inside of a week, given my long residence in the USA, the White House organized for me to become an American citizen and three weeks later president Reagan appointed Tom Clausen. It's a true story.

People who know you say that you see your presidency of the Bank as the capstone of your career, despite your many accomplishments in business and as a philanthropist.