Can we get the World Bank to say the D- word?

UPDATE 10/12 1PM: we have a winner! (see end of post) UPDATE: No winnners yet, see end of post.

Following last Friday's post on the New Yorker profile of Justin Lin, I had this email exchange with the World Bank media officer David Theis, who kindly responded promptly to my inquiries.

Original Inquiry Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 11:30 AM:

David Theis Media Chief, World Bank

Dear Mr. Theis, As I am sure you are aware, the current New Yorker has a profile of {World Bank Chief Economist} Justin Lin, especially his advocacy of an authoritarian development model. Does this reflect World Bank policy? In other words, is it official World Bank policy to endorse the authoritarian approach to development? If not, does the World Bank endorse instead a democratic approach to development? or does it simply take no position? Many thanks, Bill Easterly

Reply Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 12:29 PM:

Bill, No, we are not advocating an authoritarian development model. In fact, Bob Zoellick's recent speech at Georgetown University ( is entitled "Democratizing Development Economics." Many thanks. David

My follow-up question Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 1:15 PM:

David, thanks so much for being so responsive. If you don't mind, a follow-up question. Mr. Zoellick's speech you mention is using "democratizing" in a different context. He does not bring up the issue of democratic vs. authoritarian regimes in developing countries. So when you say that you are "not advocating an authoritarian development model," I am unclear whether you are saying you are against this model, or whether you are neutral. Could you please clarify? Many thanks, Bill

His reply Sat, Oct 9, 2010 at 9:55 AM:

Bill, I believe "we are not advocating an authoritarian development model" is quite clear. Thanks. David

Bonus Reader exercise: find the word Democracy on any official World Bank website, or in any speech by Mr. Zoellick, or in any other official report authored by the World Bank.  The winner will receive two free tickets to the launch of the World Bank's new Policy Research Report: "D#m#cr#cy: Not Advocating Its Savage Repression."

Footnote: I also corresponded with David Theis on another question in the same series of letters that remains a bit unclear , and will be featured in a future post.

UPDATE: 3:30 pm no convincing winners yet as far as the World Bank offering an official embrace of Democratic Values, as opposed to isolated reports by individual authors and a few stray Zoellick remarks. You have got to do better, guys!! Or is it impossible?

UPDATE 10/12 1PM: We have a winner...

...except in reverse. Since nobody was able to provide a compelling example of the World Bank affirming democratic values, Aid Watch decided to give the prize to David Ellerman for his piquant comment that he was once forced to substitute the word "participation" for "democracy" in a major World Bank speech. This allows Aid Watch to selflessly quote its own previous posts deriding participation as a meaningless buzzword , which goes all the way back to colonial times and was therefore not seen as inconsistent with even Imperial Autocracy.