Reuters reports: “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been in discussions with the White House about leaving her job next year to become head of the World Bank, sources familiar with the discussions said Thursday.”
Clinton’s longtime communications aide, Philippe Reines, is denying the story and a senior administration official tells TIME the Reuters “rumor” is false.
But logic and experience supports Reuters and its three sources, who all claim Clinton wants the job. Clinton has said she only wants to serve one term; she’s deeply committed to development; and the current head of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, finishes his term next year.
Normally the leadership of the World Bank and IMF would get sorted out closer to the end of the incumbents’ terms. In a complicated but well-choreographed pas-de-deux, the U.S. and Europeans simultaneously decide whom they’ll back for the heads of the two institutions. By tradition, the Europeans get the IMF and the U.S. gets the World Bank.
But that timing has been thrown off by the resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn following his arrest in New York last month on charges of sexual assualt, and negotiations are underway now for the top spots at both institutions. “In the back and forth we’re saying if we endorse you, you’ve gotta back us,” says a senior administration official (who doesn’t know if Clinton’s name has come up or not).
That means the timing of the Clinton revelation makes sense. If she wants the World Bank job, her name would be in the mix as the U.S. considers whether to approve whomever the Europeans are pushing for the DSK replacement at the IMF. French Finance minister, Christine Lagarde is considered a front runner for that job.
Clinton had kind words for her late last month, perhaps slyly indicating her own intentions: Clinton said that America welcomed “women who are well qualified” to run big institutions like the International Monetary Fund.