It is traditional for the Managing Director of the IMF to be a European; and for the President of the World Bank to be an American (the current World Bank President, an Australian called Jim Wolfensohn, took US citizenship to get the job). Of course, the job should be advertised, and chosen through an open selection process. As The Guardian argued on February 1st, the job is too important to give to a political crony of the US Administration. Furthermore, World Bank staff travel round the world – apparently with a straight face – encouraging other countries to dismantle systems of political patronage and corruption in favour of open, transparent competitions. How much more convincing that would be if their own institution met the same standards. But the US administration is so-far unmoved by the idea of an appointment on merit: they show every sign of making a selection and deciding the new President entirely behind closed doors. I find it hard to believe today’s FT story (subscription only website) that Paul Wolfowitz – a neocon hawk who was one of the architects of the occupation of Iraq – is on the shortlist. Tthe US voting share in IDA is 14%, and in IBRD it is 16%. Which means that well over three quarters of the votes on the board is in the hands of Directors other than the US. In theory, then, the US could be outvoted by the other nations on the Bank board. In practice, everyone behaves as if the US has a veto. If the US were to propose someone unacceptable – and I think Paul Wolfowitz falls squarely into that category – there is a chance that the other countries would realize that they not only the power but also the duty to overrule the US nomination. And just possibly, they might get the taste for it, and start standing up to the US on other issues at the Bank and Fund boards. My personal prediction is that the US will nominate Randall Tobias, the US global aids coordinator, and former CEO of Eli Lilly, and that he will duly become the next President of the World Bank. You heard it here first.