World Bank President Jim Yong Kim
Dr. Kim: The World Bank is part of a multilateral system that was created in the 1940s, and the great thing about it is that we have 188 Governors. We have 188 member countries. And so, all the problems in the world, but also all the possibility for collaboration in the world sort of happens right in this building and then out in the 140 countries that we work in. This is an effort of 188 of the governments in the world to come together to try to see if we can help countries to develop their economies, and that's pretty specific these days.
It's investing in health, education, roads, energy, all the things that it takes for people to lift themselves out of poverty, but also join the group of people who have education and who have the global middle class, if you will. We're focused on prosperity. We're focused on a prosperity that is shared by everyone, and we're very now focused on lifting the billion or so people living in extreme poverty out of that condition so that they can have those things that everybody in the world seems to want.
Somebody said, "No man can end
poverty unless we kill politics." Your view on that?
Dr. Kim: By our Constitution, we are not supposed to be involved in politics. So, maybe we are the right organization after all to tackle the end of poverty. I see a shift in the political realm, in the sense that I think many, many more politicians are aware that they cannot ignore the poor, they cannot ignore the poorest. I was in Bolivia and President Eva Morales said, "I want to meet you. I want to spend the day with you, but you're going to have to go fly with me to 14,000 feet to play soccer." Literally, he said this to me. So, I went there, we went to a little small community, and it was the last community in Bolivia that spoke the original Bolivian language, a community of about 4,000 people. It was in the middle of nowhere. We took a helicopter, it was so isolated, and as we were landing they took pictures of us with their smart phones. He had put Internet access - they didn't quite have 4G yet, but they were going to get it. And in India, I went to Uttar Pradesh - the poorest state, and people were watching Korean soap operas on their smart phones.
So, the fundamental thing that's changed, and this is really in the last 5 to 10 years, is the poor know how the rich live. The poor know what they are aspiring to, and they're not going to back down from this. They've got the smart phones. They know how to organize now. I mean, to start a social movement 30 years ago was incredibly difficult. You had to make posters and signs, and I'd done that, so I know how difficult it was. Now, it's much, much easier.
So, I think the fundamental difference is that people know that the poorest of the world are not going to tolerate their situation. And so, the time is now to think about positive ways of moving in a direction where we grow economies and we also, at the same time, increase the participation of everyone.
Dr. Kim: Well, first of all, China is a very important client of the World Bank Group. China continues to come back to us, work with us and, indeed, take loans, because they know that if they work with us we will do immaculate project preparation. We will do all
the analytic work before we start in on a project and then we will do the analysis of what the impact was after we do the project. So, with China, we are almost a kind of partner that tackles important pilot projects. What we've noticed is that when China decides that something is really working and worthwhile, they will scale it up. But for us, we also have a huge stake in this, because when we work with China, we learn things about how to do development that we then share with everyone in the world.
Over the last three or four G20 meetings, this is all we've talked about, how we can possibly develop sources of long-term financing for infrastructure. All of official development assistance, all of foreign assistance is about 125 billion a year, but if you look at the needs, Africa itself has 100 billion in infrastructure needs. India, over the next five years, a trillion in infrastructure needs. The official development assistance money available will never meet those needs.
And so, we need to then find a way of us providing that long-term financing in some cases, but I think even more importantly one of the things we're talking about is can we leverage our dollars to crowd in private capital so that we can put together what we call the bankable projects so that you look at them and think, "Okay, this is longterm finance for someplace in Central Africa."
It's going to have an impact on many countries at once and, on the face of it doesn't look bankable. We think that we at the World Bank Group, have so much experience in making these projects bankable that we can create all new sets of partners who will be interested in those kinds of projects, because still it is necessary. This next question is from Shafiqur in India, and it's meant to create trouble between you and Christine Lagarde: "Is there any need for the IMF? What is special with the IMF which the World Bank cannot deal?"
Dr. Kim: A trillion dollars is the biggest difference. Christine and I have worked very, very closely together. And their instrument is to help countries with balance of payments, and that's critically important. The other thing that I'm especially grateful for is that Christine has really pushed the boundaries of the IMF. She started talking about climate change. Global economic stability will be affected by climate change, that's why it makes perfect sense and it took great courage for her to do that, but it's great that she's doing it. Christine is talking about inequality. And again, she's saying, "We're talking about global economic stability."
So, I think there's a hugely important role, there will continue to be. They'll come in and they'll help (a country) immediately with a large package and they'll help with just having access to capital. We're going to go in and work on things like health programs, education programs and social protection programs. I think it's a very good one-two sort of punch, and we’ll never be as big as the IMF. An Oxfam report says that the 85 richest people in the world have more wealth than the bottom 3.5 billion. Those sound like outrageous statistics. When you talk about inequality in income or in assets, it implies to those with the money that we're talking about redistribution of wealth. Is this a really serious issue?
Dr. Kim: One has to step back and one has to say, so, for the wealthiest people in the world, what kind of world do they want to see? Do they want to see a world in which the economy is growing and in which there are more consumers to buy their products if they make products? Do they want to see a world in which there is less conflict? Do they want to see a world in which more people get to participate? Or do they want to see a world in which the economies are shrinking, but they're
The poorest of the world are not going to tolerate their situation.
maintaining their piece of it? Now, for the people who say, "We don't care if the economy grows or shrinks, we just want to keep our piece of it." You know, I think we at the World Bank Group would say, fundamentally, we disagree with you. So, if the wealthiest people in the world want to see a world that's both growing and also, at the same time, including more people, then I think we have a lot of ideas about what we need to do.
First of all, you need to invest. We need to figure out a way to stop conflicts before they happen. I've been working very closely with the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. We've been traveling together. We're trying to get to a point where we're saying security issues and development issues go hand in hand. And if we can begin development programs early in the process of a conflict, maybe that development, the possibility of jobs, the possibility of health care, education will actually lessen the possibility of further conflict. We are trying to do that.
But then, we know things like investing in health and education of - especially among the poorest is the surest way to invest in people in a way that will grow the economy. These are things that we now know. This is not an ethical or moral position. I've been working on this issue and arguing that health care for the poor is a moral issue. Now, we have evidence and no less than Larry Summers is telling us that investing in education is one of the best things you can do for economic growth. So, I would tell the richest people in the world this very message. People like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett - they're doing that right now. They're trying to put their riches to focus on things like health and agriculture and education and I think that's the right message. What are the top five drivers of inequality or poverty in the world?
Dr. Kim: I think still the most devastating is conflict. Conflict is a huge driver of poverty. Investing in human beings, this is really a critical aspect of it. But then, at the end of the day, all those things, the investments in infrastructure and human beings have to lead to growth. And so, you know, what are the ways for us to spur the kind of inclusive growth, as we talk about it--and we're asking that question right now: What have we learned that suggests to us that certain kinds of investments lead to more inclusive growth versus the growth of just particular industries or enrich particular individuals? We're asking ourselves that question right now and, as we go forward, we really want to be the organization that is the champion of those kinds of investments that lead to a more inclusive growth.