Monday, September 10, 2007

Derivatives and More at Your World Bank Store

The World Bank goes Wall Street in an unholy marriage.

But first, the second best financial commercial ever:

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First Citiwide Change Bank

The best is only available in transcript form:

First Citiwide Change Bank I
[ SUPER: "When you do only one thing, you do it better" ]

Customer #1: I needed to take the bus, but all I had was a five-dollar bill. I stopped by First Citiwide, and they were able to give me four singles and four quarters.

[ SUPER: "At First Citiwide Change Bank, We just make change" ]

Bank Representative: We will work with the customer to give that customer the change that he or she needs. If you come to us with a twenty-dollar bill, we can give you two tens, we can give you four fives - we can give you a ten and two fives. We will work with you.

Customer #2: I went to my First Citiwide branch to change a fifty. I guess I was in kind of a hurry, and I asked for a twenty, a ten, and two fives. Their computers picked up my mistake right away, and I got the correct change.

[ SUPER: "Correct Change" ]

Bank Representative: We have been in this business a long time. With our experience, we're gonna have ideas for change combinations that probably haven't occurred to you. If you have a fifty-dollar bill, we can give you fifty singles. [ SUPER: "We can give you fifty singles" ] We can give you forty-nine singles and ten dimes. We can give you twenty-five twos. Come talk to us. [ SUPER: "We can give you twenty-five twos" ] We are not going to give you change that you don't want. If you come to us with a hundred-dollar bill, we're not going to give you two-thousand nickels.. [ SUPER: "We're not going to give you two thousand nickels" ] - unless that meets your particular change needs. We will give you.. the change.. equal to.. the amount of money.. that you want change for!

[ SUPER: "At First Citiwide Change Bank, Our business is making change" ]

Bank Representative: That's what we do.

Where was I? World bank pitching derivatives? Oh yeah!

From How the World Works at

Robert Zoellick, reports the International Herald Tribune, is making his mark on the World Bank. He's pushing the notoriously sclerotic bureaucracy to be more like the nimble gazelles of Wall Street. This means, in addition to forcing staffers to get up early and attend 8:30 a.m. meetings, encouraging the bank to start offering its poverty-stricken clients access to state-of-the-art financial products, such as derivatives that would allow countries to hedge "against the risk of a commodity-price collapse or a surge in interest rates." (Thanks to the Private Sector Development Blog for the tip.)

Zoellick has dispatched bank staffers to world capitals to explain the new risk-reducing products to public officials who may not be well versed in complex finance...

...Am I the only one who hears echoes of the subprime debacle in the sentence "To lure back customers, Zoellick, 54, wants the bank to offer products that countries with poorer credit profiles cannot get in the private market"?

Just wait for the screams when the development types have to listen to a squawk box when they'd rather be reading their WSJ's, IHT's and FT's.