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World Bank Prez Jim Kim on how to use the market to defeat poverty

Dr. Jim Kim
Dr. Jim Kim

What do you think of when you hear the phrase ‘World Bank’? For me, it brings to mind a bunch of a stodgy old economists holed up in office buildings, dictating to poor countries around the world how to run their finances. Indeed just last week, the bank faced protests in Washington D.C. over its support for dams and gas projects across the developing world.

And yet, to hear activist-physician Jim Kim – formerly of Partners in Health and president of Dartmouth University, and now the President of the institution – tell it, the bank is transitioning towards a smart, holistic approach to fighting poverty. Does he believe markets can do harm as well as good? Should growth be prioritized over political freedom or other development metrics? How does he deal with criticism that he’s just a doctor, not an economist? Here’s a recent critical analysis in The Economist of his tenure so far.

Humanosphere’s editor Tom Paulson, who’s known Kim for a while, chatted with him last month about all this and more. Kim notes he was once a World Bank protester. But he now seems to relish the chance to defend his own record and that of the bank.

We also discuss the headlines from this week, including Tom’s rejoinder to critics of anti-poverty advocate and economist Jeffrey Sachs and our look at a new lawsuit against the UN over cholera in Haiti. Don’t miss this.

(Clarification from Tom: Jim actually came to Seattle to speak at the Gates Foundation, but took time out to chat with us. And that guy who broke in near the end to hurry me up was my buddy John Donnelly, a great journalist who now serves as Jim’s press guy.)

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About Author

Ansel Herz

Ansel Herz is a freelance multimedia journalist whose objective is to “go to where the silence is." His work has been published by ABC News, The Nation magazine, the New York Daily News, Al Jazeera English, Free Speech Radio News, Inter-Press News and many other publications. A Seattle native and survivor of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Ansel is producer of Humanosphere's podcast, among other things. You can contact him at ansel.herz[at] or follow him on Twitter @Ansel.