WASHINGTON - President Obama may put his mark on the World Bank by nominating Lawrence Summers, his former National Economic Council director, to lead the bank when Robert Zoellick’s term expires later this year, according to two people familiar with the matter.
While a Summers nomination may draw criticism from some Democrats who disagree with his past stances on deregulating the financial industry, he has support inside the administration from top officials, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and current NEC Director Gene Sperling, said one of the people.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is also being considered among other candidates, said the other person. Both spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations.
Lael Brainard, the Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, is compiling a list of potential candidates to replace Zoellick, who was nominated to a five-year term that began in July 2007 by President George W. Bush. By tradition, the US president chooses the leader of the World Bank, and the head of the International Monetary Fund is selected by European leaders. The nomination is subject to approval by the World Bank’s executive board.
White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to comment. Summers’ assistant, Julie Shample, said he was unavailable. Philippe Reines, a spokesman for Clinton, also declined to comment. Summers, a former Harvard president who now teaches there, is a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
A nomination of Summers, who has expressed his interest in the job to White House officials, would bring scrutiny of his previous stints in government, both as President Clinton’s Treasury secretary and Obama’s NEC director.