World Bank president sees opportunity, peril

The World Bank’s annual Spring meeting started in Washington, D.C., on April 20.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim talked to reporters about economic prospects. He started by talking about prospects for strong growth after several years of stagnation. He also noted that a series of “several overlapping crises” put the world economy at peril—“conflict, climate shocks, the worst refugee crisis since World War II, and famine in parts of East Africa and Yemen, which the UN has called the worst in 70 years.”

Kim said the financial industry had to adapt to help the world, “We have to find new and innovative ways to reach the poor and make the world more secure and more stable and to help the world grow.”

He was short on details of how this might be accomplished, however.

Kim also noted that spreading technology destabilized nations.

He said he expected two-thirds of all jobs in developing countries would be wiped out by automation.

An even greater issue was internet access. When people could see standards of living around the globe, they began to aspire to greater wealth and comfort, and felt greater dissatisfaction with their current situations.

“We looked at how satisfied people are and what is going to affect their overall level of satisfaction  and what we found is access to the internet, on the one hand, increases their satisfaction in the short term, but also raises, very quickly, the income to which they compare their own.

“If you have rising aspirations and connect those with opportunity you can get really great dynamism in a society.

“But if those rising aspirations then meet frustration, we are very worried about more and more countries going down the path to fragility, conflict, violence, extremism and of course eventually migration because the other thing that access internet does it increases people’s desire to migrate,” he said.

 
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