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Former Trade Representative Nominated to Head World Bank

Two weeks after Paul Wolfowitz resigned as president of the World Bank, President Bush nominated former U.S. trade representative Robert Zoellick to lead the organization. An economics professor and a journalist discuss the challenges facing the bank's next president.

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    Robert Zoellick, the president's nominee, will be charged with putting the World Bank back on track after the tumultuous tenure of Paul Wolfowitz. Wolfowitz will step down on June 30th, after an internal investigation found he violated ethics rules in arranging a large raise for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, also a bank employee.

    At this morning's announcement, the president had high praise for his nominee.


    Bob Zoellick understands that there are about 1 billion men, women and children who live on less than one dollar a day, and he's committed to doing something about it. The United States has a moral and national interest in helping poor and struggling countries transform themselves into free and hopeful societies.

  • ROBERT ZOELLICK, Nominee, World Bank President:

    This work, the purpose of the World Bank, is not about charity. The United States has been a strong supporter of the World Bank since its inception. The bank's reliance on markets, investments, sound policies, good governance, and partnerships for self-help are in keeping with the values that Americans esteem.


    Zoellick served as the president's trade representative from 2001 to 2005. Then in 2005, he became deputy secretary of state, where he worked to end conflicts across the globe, including peace talks in Sudan. Zoellick stepped down from that post last June, to become an executive at Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs.

    His next role will be overseeing the bank, founded in 1945 to help rebuild Europe after World War II. Since then, its mission has evolved to providing assistance to developing countries. The 185-member institution provides more than $20 billion a year for projects that improve infrastructure, like building dams and roads. The programs also focus on education and fighting diseases like AIDS and malaria.

    One of the bank's main programs is providing interest-free loans to impoverished countries, but the scandal surrounding Wolfowitz's departure has led to a number of questions about the bank itself, including debate over whether the presidency should continue to go to an American. As the bank's largest donor, the U.S. has traditionally appointed the bank chief.

    It's also led to speculation about what the bank's new role in the world should be and if there's still a need for the institution. On the NewsHour, Andrew Young, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., suggested the World Bank had outlived its usefulness.

  • ANDREW YOUNG, Co-Chairman, Good Works International:

    We might not need the World Bank, if it continues like it is. It takes so long for them to approve and evaluate projects. And the people who are approving and evaluating projects have never done projects themselves.


    Today, Zoellick said he recognizes the challenges ahead of him.


    The World Bank has passed through a difficult time for all involved. There are frustrations, anxieties and tensions about the past that could inhibit the future. This is understandable, but not without remedy: We need to put yesterday's discord behind us and to focus on the future together.


    Zoellick's nomination as World Bank president still needs to be approved by the 24-member World Bank board.