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Don't wind me up

Just suppose the World Bank's major shareholders decided they could use their money better elsewhere. Who would get the mandate to unwind or sell the bank's loan portfolio and how would it be done? One consultant, who prefers not to be named, suggested this as a hypothetical exercise, but colleagues feared it would be biting the hand that feeds them.

Will anyone pick up the baton? The right-wing Cato Institute in Washington is an obvious candidate, since it believes "the world would be a richer place without the World Bank ... er ... and even richer without the IMF", says the institute's director of fiscal studies Stephen Moore.

The biggest challenge would be the block sale or securitization of the $150 billion loan portfolio. Would it be transferred to a special purpose vehicle and enhanced with tranches of the bank's high-grade investments? Remember, the secondary value of any co-financings must fall if the World Bank or IFC disappears as the lender of record. And would countries have the same incentive to repay without the stick and carrot of conditionality? Then there's the bill for truncating thousands of tax-free employment contracts, presumably an amount that the bank's $9.6