Paul Wolfowitz's time as president of the World Bank can probably be measured in hours rather than days at this point. But if and when he departs, his replacement will face tremendous challenges.
As a U.S. News article outlined last year, the World Bank is a deeply troubled institution where corruption may have meant the loss of $100 billion or more over the years. And it's hard to see what the $20 billion in loans and grants it makes every year are accomplishing.
Middle-income countries can tap global financial markets if they need a loan, and the aid money seems to be making little difference in the world's poorest countries. From 1980 to 2002, according to an analysis by the Heritage Foundation, 23 of 45 sub-Saharan African countries experienced negative compounded economic growth, when adjusted for inflation. Just three nations saw growth over 4 percent.
Perhaps new leadership and a new mission are needed. Political scientist and geostrategist Thomas Barnett, author of Blueprint for Action, says that perhaps the World Bank could focus instead on post-conflict and post-disaster recovery.