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tv   The David Rubenstein Show Peer to Peer Conversations  Bloomberg  December 25, 2018 3:00am-3:30am EST

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♪ david: why did your parents come to the united states? dr. kim: my father was a refugee from north korea. david: did you feel discrimination because you are korean? dr. kim: the people were literally screaming at us. david: you met at harvard medical school paul farmer. dr. kim: we began talking about what is the nature of your responsibility to the rest of the world. david: you led a protest against the world bank and said it should be shut down. do you have any regrets? dr. kim: i want to say to everyone here i am very glad we lost that argument. [laughter] >> would you fix your tie, please? david: well, people wouldn't recognize me if my tie was fixed, but ok. just leave it this way. alright. ♪
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david: i don't consider myself a journalist. and nobody else would consider myself a journalist. i began to take on the life of being an interviewer even though i have a day job of running a private equity firm. how do you define leadership? what is it that makes somebody tick? you became the president of dartmouth, i think, in 2009. you were there for a couple of years. you are trained as a medical doctor and as a social anthropologist, with no finance background. all of a sudden somebody says would you like to be the president of the world bank? what would make you think that would be a job you would be qualified for, and why would you want to leave the academic setting you spent much of your life in? dr. kim: well, it is a question that a lot of people in the financial world asked as well when i was nominated.
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but we had always known in my years working in development that the world bank was the most important institution for people who wanted to help poor countries develop. and so, i came to the interview with president obama, and he was asking me exactly the same question. he literally said to me, why should i nominate you and not a macro economist? so this is when i made the pitch, probably the most important pitch in my life. i said, you know, the first question i asked him was, have you read your mother's phd dissertation? he looked at me and said, yeah, i have. i said i am an anthropologist like her. i said to him, you know, i haven't been in the finance world, but i have been on the ground doing development work for most of my adult life. i will be able to tell you how it is working on the ground. he looked at me and said, ok, i get that. david: was he surprised you read his mother's phd thesis? dr. kim: he was. he was.
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he later, we were together in an informal setting, he said that was one of the best ploys to get the job i have seen. [laughter] david: did you feel intimidated for this job when you didn't have those backgrounds, or not? dr. kim: i certainly felt humbled about it. you know, we have people here in the audience, many of whom taught me a lot about how the world bank works. so i felt like, learning finance and learning macroeconomics is going to be a huge challenge for me, but for the previous presidents coming in, learning development must have been a big challenge for them. i felt i knew what working in developing countries was like. then i really worked hard to learn the other things i needed to learn when i got here. david: when you show up at a meeting and you tell people you are the president of the world bank, do their eyes open wider or their jaws drop? that is a pretty good title.
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dr. kim: it depends on where you are. in washington, if you do that, they will say, do you have a branch in alexandria? [laughter] dr. kim: do you have atm's? in some places you are well known, and other places not. david: you are a good golfer with a five handicap. very good golfer. do people give you putts more than they used to? or that doesn't happen. dr. kim: not at all. they have the mistaken impression that i have access to cash myself, so they are trying to get that from me. david: i see. let's talk about your background. why did your parents come to the united states? your father was a dentist and your mother was a professor? dr. kim: professor of philosophy. my father was a refugee from north korea. david: he escaped from north korea to south korea. dr. kim: he escaped to south korea at the age of 19. he went into the army as a dentist. and because he worked so hard on his english, he became a translator for many of the army dentists and became good friends with them. so they gave him a scholarship
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to come to the united states. my mother was the top student in the top high school in korea. because they ranked everybody, literally, in terms of your high school ranking. she got a scholarship and came to tennessee by herself. at the time, this was the early 1950's. there were probably 300-400 koreans in all of the united states. so she and my father were introduced to each other by friends. they met and got married in new york city. like all of the koreans, the idea was they would learn in the united states and go back to serve their country. and so they went back, but inescapably they saw how people live in the united states, and so their own aspirations for themselves and their children won out. david: what was it hard to get a visa to live here permanently? dr. kim: my father was a fully-trained dentist and was a professor, but when he came back, he had to complete the
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last two years of dental school again. we were in dallas and he was a dental student at the same time, i think, working as a nurse in a hospital to make enough money. then we went, he finished his dental education at baylor dental school in dallas. and then, for some reason we are still trying to figure out, we moved to iowa. [laughter] david: at the time, you did not speak english. dr. kim: so when i came at the age of five, i did not speak a word of english. david: ok, so you move to muscatine, iowa. then in high school, how did you manage to be the quarterback of the football team, point guard on the basketball team, class president as well, and also valedictorian? was that, like, hard to do? dr. kim: well, before you get too impressed with that, our football team had the longest losing streak in the nation at the time. [laughter] david: ok. dr. kim: 56 defeats in a row. david: oh. dr. kim: i proudly kept that streak going. [laughter]
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david: you weren't recruited to play at the university of iowa? dr. kim: no. david: did you feel discrimination? because you were korean or asian? dr. kim: there was one town where i went to play basketball in where there were two african-american teammates and me, and the people would come of the people were literally screaming at us, racial epithets. i can't repeat them on television, but they were screaming at us, and they threw things at us and spit at us as we were coming out to play. so i have had that experience. as a quarterback, you're looking across and they are looking in your eyes, and every racial slur you can imagine was thrown at me. so i grew up with it, and i think it taught me a lot. it made me understand what that part of the world can be like, at least years ago. david: ok, so you are in iowa. you do very well in high school. and you go to brown. you apply and get in the hardest medical school to get in, the harvard medical school.
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were you surprised you got in, and was that your first choice? dr. kim: i was really surprised to get in. in fact, it was not my first choice, because i was trying to convince my father i was not going to go to medical school, but i was going to go study political science and philosophy. i came home from brown one summer and he asked me, so what are you going to study? i said, dad, i think i will study political science and philosophy and i think i'm going to get into politics. he literally pulled the car over to the side of the road, coming back from the airport, and he said, hey, when you finish your internship and residency, you can study anything you want. [laughter] dr. kim: and he used to talk like that. he said, for him, it was very clear who we were in this country. we were in iowa. he said you are a chinaman. he said this to me. do you think people will pay you
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to hear your ideas about political science and philosophy? get a skill. it turned out it was great advice. there are so many things that i learned and have happened because i had this notion that i needed to contribute something concrete in order to make it in the world. david: so you decided to go in a program and get a phd in anthropology. did your parents say, a medical school degree is all you need. why do you need a phd as well? dr. kim: this was the great compromise. my father felt that as long as i was in medical school, it is ok to loosen up a little bit. our responsibility was to commit to the poorest, most marginalized, most outcast people, and then do everything we can to provide the best possible health care education, you know, social protection. we said we will stay and we will work and continue to work on the losing side. ♪
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david: so you get your degrees and you meet in harvard medical school paul farmer, and the two of you started something called partners in health. can you describe what that is? dr. kim: paul and i began talking, gosh, 1983-1984, if you have what we called these ridiculously elaborate educations -- that is what paul called it -- what is the nature of your responsibility to the rest of the world? we thought and thought. and we tried to keep asking the question, so if we have these kinds of backgrounds, what is the nature of our responsibility to the world? and we came to the conclusion that our responsibility was to commit to the poorest, most marginalized, most outcast people, and then do everything we can to provide the best possible health care education, social protection. and that we were not going to win, we would not have some sort of victorious story,
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because at the time that we started this, there was very little money available in terms of global health or education. we thought, but, you know, we will continue to write about and talk about the situation of these very poor people and we are going to do that for the rest of our lives without any hope of being on the winning side. we chose at that time, we said we are going to stay and we will work and continue to work on the losing side. david: you ran it for a number of years. it was focused initially on haiti, later in peru. while in peru, you lead a protest against the world bank. in fact, you said the world bank should be shut down. dr. kim: yes. david: do you have any regrets about that? dr. kim: i just want everyone here to know that i am glad we lost that argument. [laughter] dr. kim: at that time what we were arguing is that the group was too focused on gdp growth, and that the kind of investments
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it was making was not focused enough on things like health and education. and this was an argument that was going on in development economics. david: you were an expert initially on tuberculosis. dr. kim: i was working on drug resistant tuberculosis. i have done a lot of work trying to get the global health community to change its perspective on it. and then when i went to the world health organization, it was the same thing. the overwhelming consensus, like 99.9% of all the hiv physicians in the world were saying impossible to treat hiv in developing companies. -- developing countries. there were 25 million people in africa who were living with hiv. and the global health community was about to issue a death sentence on all 25 million people living with hiv in africa. and so, that was what i did. david: so you leave the world health organization after a couple of years, heading their hiv program. you then go to harvard medical school and teach there. somebody calls you and says,
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would you like to be president of dartmouth? why did you decide to do that? dr. kim: it is a great question, and sometimes i wonder myself why. and i said to them, you know, my work for my entire life has been focusing on the lives of the poorest. and i said i don't think i can do this because it feels to me like you are asking me to turn my back on the poor. and somebody on the committee in what was really a brilliant recruitment technique, said no, no, no, we are not asking you to turn your back on the poor. we are asking you to turn the faces of the dartmouth students to the poor. i said, wow, that sounds great. [laughter] dr. kim: it turns out that is not the job of being president of the university, which you know well. david: one of the things you focused on when you were president of dartmouth was trying to reduce the alcohol consumption that undergraduates have. i think, you know, for hundreds of years university presidents would try to do that, but with very little success.
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how did you find your effort? dr. kim: let's see. what we tried at dartmouth was bring what i had learned in medicine, and what i had learned in medicine is the things that we do should be evidence-based. i looked around and i said, the things we tackled were drinking, but also sexual assault. we did a major effort on sexual assault. we tried to ask the question, so what has worked in reducing harm from drinking, and what has worked in reducing sexual assault? and so, we brought 30 universities together, including your alma mater too, and over two years, we had them meet on a regular basis and share insights on programs that have been effective. and so i think we reduced harm from alcohol consumption, but it is very hard to reduce consumption overall. david: when you came into the world bank, was there resistance, like an organ
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transplant resistance, to somebody who didn't have the same background that others have had? dr. kim: to be fair, i think the resistance was not just to me. there is resistance here to the way the place is governed as a whole. so you have people here 10, 20, 30 years with a deep knowledge. and every few years someone new comes in and they are supposed to run the institution. i think there is -- someone put it to me this way, the world bank group staff has always been skeptical about the way the place is governed from the perspective of the presidency, but when i came in, i tried to honestly look at how the place was functioning and where it could go, what it could be. and i brought in great people. alan, the former ceo of ford. alan spent quite a bit of time with us, looking at the overall structure. i asked alan, what would you do
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if you saw an organization like this? i brought in a lot of people and what they said this is an incredibly complex institution. so there were a whole bunch of things that needed to be done. having done change processes before, i knew it would be painful, but i just felt like it is my moral responsibility to just give it my best shot to set up the institution so that it could function as effectively as it possibly could. ♪ david: let's talk about the world bank. dr. kim: there is going to be no way to buffer yourself from the 2 billion people living in africa by 2050 who will have aspirations as high as europeans, as americans, so we have no choice but to make this system work for everybody. ♪
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♪ david: let's talk about the world bank. dr. kim: right. so, we have 189 member countries. and we were founded before the end of world war ii. they wanted to stabilize currency exchange rates after the war, but they also wanted an organization that would rebuild europe. then of course the marshall plan came soon after that, and we expanded. david: where does it actually get its money? where does the money come from? how much money do you have? dr. kim: we have a total portfolio of almost $400 billion. that means loans, equity investments we have right now. and so the great innovation of the world bank was that countries gave us capital. so there is paid in capital. we have a very good credit rating, so our credit rating is aaa, but it is probably one of
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the strongest aaa's in the world. what we have been able to do is, whatever equity we have, we use that to go to the capital markets and borrow at a low rate and pass that on to member countries. david: what is the difference between the world bank and the and attorney -- the international monetary fund? dr. kim: the imf comes in and helps countries in trouble and gives them a short-term infusion that is paid back in a short period of time, and it is cash related to policy changes. we do things like help countries build roads. we provide specific loans for roads. on the private sector side, we give loans to private sector companies working in poor countries. we have another part of the organization that literally invented political risk insurance. there is a much broader range of things that we do at the world bank, but of course we are much smaller than the imf. david: you focus on developing markets. but now the developing markets have so much capital from
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private equity firms and sovereign wealth funds. is there a real need for the world bank anymore? dr. kim: i don't think they need our capital, but they need our advice, and they certainly need the capital in the form we can provide it. in a middle income country, if we can provide them a 25-30 year loan at 2.5% or 3%, there are not many middle income countries that can go to the capital markets themselves and get a loan. and they will also not get one where we come in and say, we will give you this loan, whether for a particular project, or we give it right to the government budget, but then the government has to make policy changes. there are are few organizations that will come to them and say we will not charge you and try to get the after work. we are coming in and will give you the benefit of our experience and the experience of our client countries all over the world. we will give you 10 experiences in this world and how this problem that you are trying to
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solve was solved. and we will bring the people who actually know those cases, and as part of the loan, we will provide that to you for free. not a lot of countries can do that. but also, you know, there are some countries that are getting access to private equity and capital, but the vast majority of low-income and middle-income countries are not getting that. what we are now trying to do is use the financing we have to help those countries become much more attractive for the flow of private capital. david: so after you leave the world bank, whenever you leave, what would you like to do? dr. kim: you know, in trying to look at the evidence for development, what do we need to do? certain things are very striking to me. one is that, if by 2025, indeed, everyone in the world, 8 billion people, have access to broadband, then the experience my parents had of coming to the united states and saying this is what the world could look like,
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everyone would have that on smart phones. as more people get online, their aspirations grow, so there is absolutely no way we are going to meet the aspirations of 8 billion people without massive new investments coming from the private sector. if i were to do anything after this, i would work on that problem. david: ok. now, did your parents live to see you become the president of the world bank? dr. kim: not my father, but my mother. my father passed away early when he was 57. but my mother has. david: she must've been pretty proud to see you president of the world bank. dr. kim: yeah. and soon after she learned what did the world bank was. -- what the world bank was. [laughter] david: i don't play golf because i don't think i would be good at it. you are obviously a very good golfer. when did you have time to learn golf? dr. kim: i grew up in iowa and we lived right near the local golf course. i played it competitively all through high school. david: you played with president
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obama and president trump? dr. kim: yes. i have. david: who is better? [laughter] dr. kim: gee, so, you know, let me just put it this way, president obama started late in life. and so for someone who started late in life, he is very good. president trump has been playing for most of his life. and he is extremely good. he is an extremely good golfer. he can hit all the shots. so it is, they are two different kinds of golfers completely. how is that? [laughter] david: that is a diplomatic answer. what would you say is the greatest pleasure of your professional life? dr. kim: for me, the thing i am most grateful for is i have been able to learn new things throughout every stage of my professional career. and so, as long as you stay open to it, i think that is the key. if i were to give advice to anyone, what we now know is that
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the jobs of the future will require that people are ready to continue to learn throughout their lives. david: in the old days, the advice was plastics, but now -- dr. kim: plastics. david: if you want to get into private equity when you leave the world bank, let me know. [laughter] dr. kim: you did say the highest human calling is private equity. david: it is. dr. kim: i have to tell you that people who are willing to put risk capital in developing countries, that is the key. that is going to be the key, and unfortunately, there is not enough of it now. if making economies work for everybody, this is essentially what i say now to everybody at the world bank. our job is to make the global market system work for everybody and the planet. and whether you like it or not, we really have to do that. there is going to be no way to buffer yourself from 2 billion people living in africa by 2050 who are going to have aspirations that are every bit as high as europeans, as americans, so we have no choice
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but to make this system work for everybody. david: dr. kim, thank you very very much for what you have done for the world bank. dr. kim: thank you, david. [applause] ♪
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david: you produced some of the most famous movies in american history. barry: first we failed. in order to figure stuff out, you are going to make a mess. david: you decide to leave. barry: i have certainly been successful. but none of this is mine. david: how did you gravitate towards the internet? barry: i saw screens being used for something else. it was interactive and it intrigued me. david: is that how it happened? barry: i know it sounds quite crackers, but that is what happened. david: people said barry diller, who has been -- barry: yeah, then people said i was crazy. >> would you fix your tie, please? david: well, people wouldn't recognize me if my tie was fixed, but ok. just leave it this way. alright. ♪


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