Finance ministers from across Southeast Asia and around the world are gathering in Japan this week for the annual meetings of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund (IMF). It is only the second time in about 40 years that the meetings are being held in Japan, and the first time ever that the World Bank is led by a new kind of leader _ Korean-American physician Jim Yong Kim.
Yet, though the meetings are bigger than ever, with 20,000 participants, will the policy prescriptions coming out of Tokyo still lag behind an Asia-Pacific region and world that are changing faster than many of the institutions created to serve them? Will new World Bank and IMF leaders and their governing boards be able to overcome bureaucracies and incentive systems that seem to have placed more emphasis on new loans and bigger programmes versus sometimes smaller, more focused and more effective efforts?
Since stepping down from my post as US ambassador and a member of the board of directors of the Asian Development Bank _ a multilateral financial institution that, like the World Bank, is owned by governments and primarily lends to governments to reduce poverty through economic growth _ I have been asked frequently for my own views on the way forward, particularly in Asia, and which nation might be next to capture people's imaginations and investments during these troubled economic times.
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