World Bank Gamed Data to Make Chile’s Socialist Party Look Bad

Photo of Augusto Lopez-Claros from his personal website.Photo by Vic Voytek

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Paul Romer, the chief economist of the World Bank, told the Wall Street Journal yesterday that the bank’s “Doing Business” rankings had been systematically gamed over the past few years to change Chile’s ranking:

The former director of the group responsible for the report, Augusto Lopez-Claros, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment sent to personal and work email addresses listed on his personal website….A former professor at the University of Chile, Mr. Lopez-Claros is on leave from the World Bank this year.

….Over time, World Bank staff put a heavy thumb on the scales of its report by repeatedly changing the methodology that was used to calculate the country rankings, Mr. Romer said. The focus of the World Bank’s corrections will be changes that had the effect of sharply penalizing the ranking of Chile….Chile’s overall ranking has fluctuated between 25th and 57th since 2006. During that period, the presidency of Chile has alternated between Ms. Bachelet, of Chile’s socialist party, and Sebastián Piñera, a conservative. Under Ms. Bachelet, Chile’s ranking consistently deteriorated, while it consistently climbed under Mr. Piñera.

First off, I’m going to guess that Lopez-Claros’s leave from the World Bank will last more than a year. Second, WTF? It’s bad enough that Lopez-Claros used his perch to make his preferred party look good and the opposing party look bad. But it’s hardly conceivable that no one involved in preparing the report noticed what was going on. I guarantee there’s more to this story.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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