Romer Slaughters Kittens

Well, I figured that we’d get to this point.

Since I joined the World Bank last fall, we’ve had a few internal conversations that involved what the diplomats would call “a full and frank exchange of views.”

It is no surprise that the Bank has its own homegrown insurgents ready to wage their version of asymmetric warfare. One of those ways is via rumors. Apparently the word is out that when I asked people to write more clearly, I wasn’t nice. And that I slaughter kittens in my office.

On the writing, mea culpa. The good news is that people are taking writing more seriously. Today, we presented the Global Economic Prospects report that we’ll release in June to the Bank’s Board of Directors. Two of them commented that they liked the tighter focus this year. After the Board meeting, the team that wrote the report said that it has 35% fewer words than last year’s report. When I pressed, one of the team members laughed and said that yes, the frequency of the word “and” is about 1.5 percentage points above the threshold I’ve set of 2.6%. This is a bit of a running gag, but still, a reminder that we will all be paying attention. I guess the insurgents missed the joke.

Because it will all come out anyway, I created a mirror of the blog that I’ve been using inside the Bank firewall. It gives away the secret!!!!! explanation for the threshold frequency of 2.6%:

Note added May 2019: this site is no longer live.

Oh, yes. “Romer shows up, breaks some china, and is asked to leave the kitchen.” Isn’t this one of those “dog bites man” stories?

After all, you can’t say that I didn’t warn everyone:

Everybody wants progress; nobody wants change"