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How can multilateral development banks better leverage existing resources, and act more cohesively as a system? How should they better align allocation with financing needs and the emergence of global problems that require international solutions?
With Jim Kim’s abrupt departure from the World Bank, there has been a swirl of commentary on questions of legacy, the best of which aim to answer the question, “how is the bank doing?” For large multilateral institutions like the World Bank, that’s a frustratingly difficult question to answer. Seemingly objective measures like volume of financing or sectoral targets are simplistic and bring their own value judgements about what the institution should be doing. Annual reports give us a narrative about institutional performance, but a heavily biased one.
Does governance matter for the long-run financing and effectiveness the multilateral development banks? Does their system of weighted voting matter for their long-run access to financing and their effectiveness as development institutions? Does the voting structure involve some tradeoff between the confidence of creditor countries in the different MDBs, and the sense of ownership, legitimacy, and trust of borrowers?