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The end of the Wolfensohn era

Wolfensohn: suffered a rare
disappointment when it became
clear the Bush administration
would not nominate him for a
third term as president of the
World Bank

Ever since George W Bush was first elected president in 2000, one of Washington's favourite guessing games has been who will be the next president of the World Bank. For the past five years, the correct answer has been ?James Wolfensohn?, the man now in his tenth year at the helm who would dearly have loved to see a fifteenth there as well.

Wolfensohn is the subject of a fascinating new book, The World's Banker. The author, Sebastian Mallaby, is not shy about expressing his opinions: former US Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill and World Bank economist Joseph Stiglitz are very unfavourably portrayed, and the NGO community is dismissed so soundly there is already talk of a ?Mallaby effect? diminishing their access and influence in the Bank.

Complex character

The most complex character in the book, naturally, is Wolfensohn himself. He said he would step down this June, after it became clear that the Bush administration would not nominate him for a third term.

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