In the echoes-of-2008 department, the World Bank just hired a former Lehman Brothers risk manager to run its finances.
The bank, which lends money to developing countries in a bid to curb poverty, said Madelyn Antoncic will “be responsible for maintaining the World Bank’s high standing in financial markets.”
It is tempting here to make a joke about Antoncic’s qualifications for that task. After all, you could hardly have a lower standing in financial markets than Lehman, whose September 2008 collapse nearly brought down the world economy.
Antoncic was for a spell the chief risk manager at Lehman, reporting to the peerless perfect-storm skipper Dick Fuld. For whatever reason the firm’s success in risk management was, let’s say, less than total.
But according to one account, published two years ago in the U.K. Guardian, Antoncic was indeed one of the few people wearing white hats at Lehman. Her second thoughts about the bank’s leverage crusade led to her being sidelined into a policy job a year before the bank went belly-up. The bank still sank, but hey, it wasn’t like Antoncic was the one screaming full steam ahead.
World Bank chief Robert Zoellick made a nod to this accomplishment, such as it is, in his comments Thursday.
“Known for her forthrightness, I am delighted Madelyn is taking up this important role,” said Zoellick. “She brings to the Bank an extensive background in the financial industry and a demonstrated record of leadership, innovation, and integrity.”
Perhaps the bright side is that the World Bank isn’t making any loans to Greece or any other place that looks certain to blow up soon. At least not yet.