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Speeches & Transcripts February 8, 2021

Transcript: World Bank Group President David Malpass's Interview with Axios on HBO

Dion Rabouin: Ready for the mask removal?

[Dion Rabouin and David Malpass remove masks]

David Malpass: Dion, very good to see you!

Rabouin: Good to see you as well. It seems like the rollout of the vaccine in some of these developing countries that have been some of the hardest hit by the virus is going very, very slowly. Is it just that they're in the back of the line for the vaccine? Is it that they don't have the systems? What's the problem?

Malpass: The delivery of the vaccines is one of the big challenges. The vaccines were invented in advanced economies, and they created contracts that commit much of the supply. Some of the companies took an effort to have some of the vaccines available for developing countries. And so my goal is to have as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible in the poor countries.

Rabouin: I think you have used the word “destabilizing” -- that this crisis, the COVID-19 crisis could be destabilizing for some of these developing countries?

Malpass: Inequality is a big challenge for political systems. Let's say you're a developing country that was making good progress, and then COVID hit. That undercuts your reform efforts, your democracy efforts. They were cut off almost overnight from their banking relationships. We've tried to step into that vacuum, which will help keep people in jobs. The instability comes from people seeing that they're going backward not forward.

Rabouin: You've talked about inequality, not just between the rich countries and the poor countries but also within countries. Why are we seeing this inequality

Malpass: I think there are strong economic forces at work. As interest rates went down and bond yields went down, that benefits people who are able to borrow for the long-term. That tends to be people at the higher end of the income curve. There's not much going for people at the bottom end of the scale.

I think that's what we have to recover: a system where small businesses create jobs for people that don't have skills yet, but want to have skills going forward. The reality of this is the inequality is really bearing down on the poorest people around the world. And I think that's something that the world needs to tackle with full energy in order to get out of that trend.

Rabouin: President Trump who nominated you, very clearly ‘America First we need to take on these multilateral institutions’, you were a strong supporter of the President, it does seem like you've again made a big turn from some of those policies that you supported initially back in 2016 when you supported the president.

Malpass: I've supported throughout growth—look at my testimonies from recent years, very clear—we are supporting growth, development, climate and a forceful presence and positive presence by the US in international organizations. I'm looking forward to working with the Biden administration on those goals.

Rabouin: I think even before as recently as 2018, you said multilateralism has gotten substantially too far. Yet when I hear you talk about what you all have done here, it seems very much like multilateralism. How do you square that circle?

Malpass: I want to make international organizations work effectively together so we talk in terms of collaboration, cooperation with other other international organizations, and also with governments. What international organizations need to do is be very effective within their mission. I think the World Bank is doing that well.


Watch the full segment with President Malpass as part of the second episode of Axios on HBO's fourth season here