Levin may be a candidate to head World Bank

If the rumors are true, Richard Levin could have the opportunity to trade the Yale presidency for the head post at the World Bank.

Levin has been mentioned as a potential candidate in a host of newspaper articles earlier this week speculating about who might succeed former bank president Paul Wolfowitz, who resigned last week. In addition to the articles — one of which appeared in the New York Times — bloggers have mentioned Levin as a likely candidate, and the Center for Global Development, a think tank that comments extensively on the World Bank, included Levin in a list of candidates in a survey on its Web site.

The World Bank is an international organization that provides countries with funding and advice for economic development.

References to Levin’s potential candidacy cite his close ties to United States President George W. Bush ’68, the fact that he is an economist, and his appointment in 2003 to the Iraq Intelligence Commission as qualities that might suggest him for the post. Levin also has relationships with key world leaders — at the invitation of Chinese President Hu Jintao, he has spent the past week and a half in China leading a delegation of 100 students, faculty and administrators.

Such relationships are important for successful World Bank presidents, said Bill Antholis GRD ’93, a managing director of the Brookings Institution who specializes in international institutions and development. It is also important for a bank leader to have experience managing large and complex institutions and to understand development economics, he said. Even though Levin has exemplifies many of these qualities, his name is being thrown around speculatively, Antholis said.

“People are sort of making this stuff up,” he said. “Speculation comes from all different places.”

Wolfowitz resigned after weeks of wrangling with the bank’s board over his arrangement of a high-paying State Department job for his companion Shaha Ali Riza. The U.S. typically has the right to nominate the bank’s presidents because it contributes the largest share of any country to the bank’s operating budget. It is unclear whether the next bank president would serve out the three-year remainder of Wolfowitz’s term or serve a full five-year term.

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