Can We Trust the World Bank to be a Knowledge Bank?

Unfortunately, not really, according to Brown University Professor Ross Levine’s presentation at the Aid Watch conference “What would the poor say?” on February 6, 2009. Professor Levine argues that the Bank’s incentives to keep the lending money flowing trumps any incentive to get the advice right on important issues.

The World Bank acted to suppress data collection on bank regulation because it didn’t like the findings that were emerging (not that an obscure topic like financial regulation is that important). (2 minutes, 6 seconds):

Ross Levine on a Bank Regulation Study at the World Bank from DRI on Vimeo.

Was it that the Bank could not afford to spend $50,000 to collect data on what works in bank regulation? Well they did manage to spend $4 million on a “Growth Report” whose usefulness Professor Levine regards as somewhere between that of a pet rock and a clueless bank regulator (54 seconds):

Ross Levine on How Much is A Lot of Money for the World Bank? from DRI on Vimeo.