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Stern test for new man at World Bank

With broken china still littering the office of the World Bank’s chief economist, Nicolas Stern finally arrived this July to start picking up the pieces. Stern, a mild-mannered man with degrees from Oxford and Cambridge, comes to Washington after six years as chief economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. His predecessor, the celebrated and unconventional Joseph Stiglitz, raised an unprecedented ruckus during his brief but stormy tenure in the job. His final controversy was the manner of Stern’s appointment to succeed him. So what is Stern’s agenda now, asks James Smalhout

Joseph Stiglitz, a former chairman of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisors, was perhaps best known for his scathing blasts at the World Bank's sister institution, the IMF, and the Fund's interest rate policies in Asia's crisis countries. But as chief economist at the World Bank he committed a multitude of other sins in the eyes of the so-called "Washington Consensus".

Stiglitz: disagreed with the IMF

Stiglitz, for example, had the gall to lambast privatization in eastern Europe and Africa, arguing that legal systems, among other factors, weren't ready to support the change.

He told countries to go slowly when they started to think about liberalizing their capital markets - one of the keys to globalization. And he turned thumbs down at the increasingly successful movement to set up funded, individual retirement accounts, an idea that even US presidential candidate Al Gore recently found a way to endorse.

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