José Antonio Ocampo, Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, has just been officially put forward by the Dominican Republic and Brazil as a candidate for the Presidency of the World Bank.
Two of my fellow Triple Crisis bloggers, Kevin Gallagher and Stephany Griffith-Jones have endorsed Professor Ocampo’s candidacy for World Bank President, citing his many diplomatic and scholarly credentials. I would like to second their “Triple Crisis” nominations, and also endorse his candidacy.
Although I have been familiar with Professor Ocampo’s contributions to policy and economics research for years, and both of us have participated in Professor Joe Stiglitz’s Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia University, I did not have the pleasure of meeting Professor Ocampo until earlier this month, when we both were speakers at the Mount Holyoke Conference “Development in Crisis: Changing the Rules in a Global World”.
Meeting and spending some time with Professor Ocampo at Mount Holyoke impressed me in several ways. First, addressing the theme of the conference, he gave an eloquent and well-researched talk on why the “Washington Consensus” that has dominated current macroeconomic stabilization policy and crisis management for developing countries needs a serious re-think. Second, in our personal exchanges, Professor Ocampo not only demonstrated a profound understanding of many other critical areas of structural concerns in poor economies – including my area of natural resources and economic development – but also expressed a deep-felt keenness to engage with and listen to others’ views. Finally, Professor Ocampo kindly provided me and other speakers at the conference with a copy of his recent IPD book, co-authored with Codrina Rada and Lance Taylor, Growth and Policy in Developing Countries: A Structuralist Approach. Reading this book should dispel any doubt that Professor Ocampo has thought long and hard about the policy challenge of developing countries in striving for economic development during the current “Triple Crisis”.
For these three reasons, the ability to rethink the current gridlock over macroeconomic policy in developing countries, the willingness to solicit and consider other opinions, and finally, the keenness to impart knowledge gained from a lifetime of thinking about and enacting new directions in development policy, Professor Ocampo would make an excellent President of the World Bank.