Summary of The World's Banker

A Story of Failed States, Financial Crises, and the Wealth and Poverty of Nations

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The World's Banker book summary
You can’t please everyone all the time. But as president Jim Wolfensohn found, that’s your goal if you’re the World Bank.


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Former Iraq War architect and neocon superhawk Paul Wolfowitz was president of the World Bank from 2005 to 2007. Before his forced resignation, he used his office unfairly to promote bank employee Shaha Ali Riza, his girlfriend. If Wolfowitz had not stepped down voluntarily, the bank’s board surely would have sacked him. He might be the most notorious former World Bank president, but Jim Wolfensohn is the most intriguing. Former Olympian, Australian turned American, Harvard Business school graduate, corporate dealmaker, Carnegie Hall cellist, Renaissance man and a bona fide larger-than-life character, Wolfensohn was the World Bank’s president from 1995 to 2005. During this period, the restless, energetic Wolfensohn was like a raging tornado, ripping through the bank’s stately Washington, D.C., offices, upsetting long-held traditions, tangling daily with the bank’s entrenched bureaucrats, determined to make a difference for the three billion people who live in abject poverty. Journalist Sebastian Mallaby explores Wolfensohn’s dramatic decade, along with the bank’s changing practices and policies. getAbstract recommends Mallaby’s fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at how Wolfensohn and the bank struggled mightily against world poverty for 10 eventful years.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the World Bank began
  • What its mission is and how it should pursue it
  • How James Wolfensohn fared as president during his 1995-2005 term


The World’s Toughest Job
The professionals at the World Bank tackle hard jobs every day. Consider the bank’s Qinghai project in China, the country that borrowed more funds from the bank during the 1990s than any other nation. The Chinese proved remarkably efficient at using World Bank ...
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About the Author

Sebastian Mallaby is a Washington Post columnist and author. He was a 2003 Council on Foreign Relations fellow and from 1986 to 1999, worked as a staff writer for The Economist, based in Zimbabwe, England and Japan.

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