World Bank President Robert Zoellick, who said today he'll step down at the end of June, could be succeeded by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or by Lawrence Summers, President Barack Obama's former National Economic Council adviser. Another name being tossed around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Geithner has made no secret of his desire to leave Washington -- he tried getting out last year -- and those who know him say he may write a book about his role in the financial crisis. Still, Obama has high regard for Geithner -- he's outlasted every other economic adviser -- and the president might be able to talk him into the job.
That said, the timing is awkward: Zoellick leaves June 30 and Geithner has agreed to stay through the end of Obama's first term. Of course, such details are always negotiable, and Obama could simply appoint an acting head of the World Bank until Geithner is ready to assume the role.
Yet the choice may not be so simple. The international community -- particularly emerging countries -- has grown increasingly vocal in recent years about the need to end the U.S. and Europe stronghold on the leadership of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
The U.S. president has traditionally appointed the head of the World Bank, in large part because it made getting congressional funding easier. That analysis may no longer hold, given Washington's partisan paralysis and distaste for spending money. What's more, emerging economies like Brazil, Mexico and China are well-equipped to help finance the bank's activities.
So who in the international arena might be in the running? Names floating around Washington include Agustin Carstens, the Mexican central banker who lost out on the IMF job to France's Christine Lagarde, former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, and José de Gregorio Rebeco, a former Chilean central bank governor.
(Deborah Solomon is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board. Follow her on Twitter.)
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