Bank economist investigated for article

2 November 2001

World Bank economist William Easterly faces disciplinary proceedings over an article he wrote for the Financial Times. The Bank is undertaking a “review” of Easterly’s decision to publish the article alleging that aid financing, including US$1 trillion (£685 billion) in World Bank and IMF loans have failed to achieve their targets of poverty alleviation.

Katherine Sierra, the Bank’s vice-president of human resources, told The Washington Post (9/9/01) that action was taken against Easterly for failing to comply with internal regulations requiring staff to get clearance prior to media appearances. It was not, she claimed, an attempt to muzzle dissent. Bank spokesperson Caroline Anstey said staff economists were free to air their views in academic settings, but not in the media as senior Bank officials did not want to be surprised by reading staffers’ comments in the papers. This media clearance procedure appears odd for an institution trying to reposition itself as a “knowledge Bank”.

Easterly’s July 4 article was based on his book, The Elusive Quest for Growth (MIT Press, 2001), which criticised the Bank’s track record. “It is little wonder that protesters have demonstrated so vehemently against the international organisations”, he remarked in the book, which was cleared by the Bank for publication.

Washington Post article

Financial Times article