World Bank to lose second chief economist after only 15 months

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The World Bank’s chief economist, Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg, will leave her position on March 1 after less than 15 months on the job to return to Yale University, according to an internal email to colleagues seen by Reuters.

Koujianou Goldberg joined the multilateral development lender in November 2018, replacing Paul Romer, who left the chief economist post in January that year after only 15 months.

Romer quit here the World Bank to return to New York University after coming under fire for saying that Chile's rankings in the bank's closely watched "Doing Business" survey may have been deliberately skewed lower under the country's Socialist former president, Michelle Bachelet.

Koujianou Goldberg said in her email: “It was a difficult decision, but I felt that the time is right for me to return to my work at Yale University. I appreciate your understanding.”

World Bank President David Malpass, in a separate internal email to staff seen by Reuters, said the bank’s management team “will miss Penny as a colleague and as a friend.”

He said Aart Kraay, director of research in the bank’s Development Research Group, would take over as acting chief economist while a global search for a new chief economist is launched.

Koujianou Goldberg is known as an expert in microeconomics research, focusing on topics including trade and inequality, intellectual property rights in developing countries and exchange rates.

In his note to staff, Malpass, praised her “intellectual rigor and curiosity” and an October 2018 World Bank study she led that showed the growth of global supply and value chains - a key driver of poverty reduction in emerging market counties - had largely stalled in the past decade and is under threat from trade conflicts and new technologies.

Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Lisa Shumaker