Ethiopia and the World Bank of Lies, Damned Lies and Statislies[Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam]

World Bank10

John Milton wrote in Paradise Lost: “For no falsehood can endure/ Touch of celestial temper.”

Of course, Milton was writing about Satan and his “devilish art”  of  “forging illusions”.

I am seething in temporal temper over the World Bank’s “devilish art” of economic numerology, Mephistophelian cunning in making deals with corrupt African thugtators and the infinite ability of  its experts to forge illusions, lies , damned lies and statislies to ensure their own job security.

The World Bank has once again stoked my temper in its latest report on Ethiopia. For the third time in 2015.

Last week, the World Bank issued its 166-page report on Ethiopia entitled, “Ethiopia’s Great Run”.

That report is the biggest hogwash, whitewash and brainwash I have ever read.

In 2010, Meles Zenawi, the late leader of the Thugtatorship of the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front (T-TPLF),  described the European Union Election Observer Mission’s  report documenting his daylight robbery of the 2010 election as “useless trash that deserves to be thrown in the garbage”.

If one wants to read a report in 2015 that is a 24-carat piece of useless trash that deserves to be thrown in the garbage, one need go no further than the World Bank’s “Ethiopia’s Great Run”.

By God! Is there no limit to how low those doggone liars at the World Bank will stoop to hatch out lies, fabricate damned lies and manufacture statistics just to kiss up to a corrupt-to-the-bone thug regime and bend over backwards to cover up the truth?

Well! They stooped lower than a snake’s belly  in “Ethiopia’s Great Run”.

I hate liars.

Especially hired liars. Liars who lie for a few pieces of silver. Liars who would prostitute their professional expertise and skills for a buck or two. Liars who are hypocrites. Boldfaced liars.

Educated and trained liars who would use fancy lingo to make corruption respectable; fraud honorable and theft, waste and abuse of  a nation’s treasury virtuous.

The  World Bank liars will torture the truth to extract lies; they will massage the statistics to bury the truth six feet under; and they will concoct  truth out of whole cloth lies.

The so-called international experts, consultants and international poverty pimps at the World Bank cranking out bogus economic reports on Ethiopia make me sick. I want to throw up every time I read their garbage reports.

I ask myself: Why the hell do I force myself to read the crock of s**t the World Bank cranks out on Ethiopia when my shelves are stacked full with literary masterpieces?

I answer myself: Could it be because I have a secret fascination for fables, fantasy, mythology, fairy tales and fiction written by international poverty pimps?

It has been said that “there are two ways of lying. One, not telling the truth and the other, making up statistics.”

The World Bank’s “Ethiopia’s Great Run” does both.

The lies, damned lies and “statislies” (a word I coined to describe the use of statistics by international poverty pimps to dignify lies and damned lies) of the World Bank begins with a bold-faced lie in the first sentence of the Executive Summary (p.4):

Ethiopia’s economic growth has been remarkably rapid and stable over the past decade. Real GDP growth averaged 10.9 percent in 2004-2014, according to official data.

The footnote to this statement (they are hoping no one will read it) explains:

The IMF (2013b) has argued that official real GDP growth rates may have been overestimated by as much as 3 percentage points in recent years. Even by this more conservative estimate, a growth acceleration is beyond dispute. (Emphasis added.)

The first sentence of the Executive Summary is a statislie ( a statistical lie) with a disingenuous disclaimer in the accompanying footnote.

The simple translation of the statislie is this: Ethiopia’s real GDP growth is really not 10.9 percent (it could be 6.5, 7 or 8.9 percent), but who is counting? Who cares!?

Regardless, the reader should believe Ethiopia’s GDP growth to be 10.9 percent (not 11 percent, of course!)

After all, the World Bank’s data collection and analysis is so accurate and precise, they can assert with fractional certainty that it is 10.9 and not 11 percent.

The first sentence of the Executive Report is intended to captivate the readers’ attention and wow them from the get go. It is intended to be a statistical shock and awe!

Once the “10.9 percent annual growth over the past decade” is firmly and subliminally planted in the reader’s mind  and the reader concioulsy or subliminally accepts  this “official data” as true and accurate, the rest of the 165-pages is a propaganda narrative and fantasy tale which merely explains how this fantastic “growth acceleration beyond dispute” has been achieved.

But whoa! whoa! whoa! World Bank! Not so fast!

There is a hell of a lot of dispute about the “growth acceleration [that is] beyond dispute”.

So let’s back up and ask some simple questions of the World Bank’s experts.

Is a statistical difference between 8.9 percent and 11.9 percent statistically significant?

For instance, according to a report released last week on the growth of the U.S. economy, “for all of 2015, the rate of economic growth is expected to be about 2.5 percent, not much different from the 2.4 percent rate in 2014.”

If we accept the World Bank’s statistical logic of a 3 percent “margin of error” (?) and applied it to the U.S., it would appear the U.S. experienced negative growth, possibly heading inexorably to a deep recession or depression.

Is the “official Ethiopian government” figure of 10.9 (why not round it off to 11 percent?) or the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF)  figure of 7 (?) 8(?) percent accurate?

In 2013, for instance, the IMF reported Ethiopia’s “GDP growth seen slowing to 6.5 pct in 2012/13 from 8.5 pct.”

Is the official self-serving data provided by the “government” intrinsically more reliable than the IMF’s estimate such that the World Bank would give the “official data” greater accuracy and primacy by citing it in the first line of its  Executive Summary as intrinsically more reliable and authoritative? (The World Bank knows most reasonable people would not bother to read their hogwash and among the daring few who would read it, nearly all of them will only read the Executive Summary (that’s because they don’t want to throw up).  Only “unreasonable” people like myself will waste their time trudging in a 166-page statistical sewer.

Is the “government’s” data any more reliable than the IMF’s “estimates”?

Is the difference in data between the “official” figures and the IMF estimates the same difference between the data and estimates provided by Tweddle Dee and Tweddle Dum?

Is any official data generated by the T-TPLF regime, the IMF or World Bank or any of the other loaners and donors have any credibility?

If the World Bank, the IMF and the other loaners and donors are being spoon-fed their data by “Ethiopian officials”, how credible could that figure be?

Will the T-TPLF actually tell the truth about economic growth rate or is it highly likely to dress up the figures to make themselves look good?

Why do the World Bank, the IMF and the other loaners and donors rely on patently false “official figures” to base their analysis of the growth of the Ethiopian economy?

After all, these international poverty pimps have their own enlightened self-interest to protect by writing fictional stories of GDP growth under the T-TPLF as they bury that poor country in debt while being wined, dined and schmoozed over fine cognac and caviar in posh hotels in Addis Ababa.


Can any data provided by a regime that claimed to have won elections by 99.6 percent in 2010 and by 100 percent in 2015 possibly be credible in the least?

The Central Statistics Agency (CSA) and the “National Accounts Department of the Ministry Finance and Economic Development” are the two official institutions in Ethiopia under the control of the T-TPLF that are responsible for keeping track of the statistical data which is cited proudly and authoritatively by the World Bank.

But neither organization has the institutional capability to collect reliable and accurate economic data, let alone assemble complete and comprehensive data sets which could serve as empirical bases for economic prognostications.

That fact was emphatically stated on March 24, 2010 in the official statement of Paul Mathieu, the IMF team leader who, after conducting an evaluation of the current half fiscal year economic performance of Ethiopia, said: “Statistics collection of the country requires transformations, and we advised the government to do that.”

Translated from “diplomatese” into ordinary language, Mathieu’s statement makes it plain that the statistics and data generated and used by the T-TPLF to describe Ethiopia’s economic performance and make predictions are basically “cooked up” and garbage in, garbage out data.

It took the World Bank 4 years to even begin to address the issue of T-TPLF data collection.

In a “Project Appraisal Document” dated May 28, 2014, the World Bank declared it would commit USD$10 million  “to enhance the capacity of the Central Statistical Agency (CSA) at the organizational, human, and physical levels in order to produce and disseminate reliable, accessible, and timely statistics.”

On September 4, 2014,  “a team of 15 IBM  experts presented its recommendations to Ethiopian leaders” on a variety of statistical data collection methodologies and processes including “text-based communications”,  “integrated IT system”, “collection and analysis of key labor market data”, “mobile and analytics technologies to gather and analyze data about nutrition, water, sanitation, and hygiene”.

In its September 2015 report on Ethiopia (IMF Country Report No. 15/300; see e.g. footnotes on pp.4-6; 22-29), the IMF, in willful ignorance, continued to use  the same worthless and totally discredited statistical data published by the T-TPLF in its report:

Historical GDP data published by the IMF are those issued by Ethiopia’s Central Statistical Agency. Staff projections for GDP are based on an underlying growth rate that is lower than that of the authorities, and that reflect identified weaknesses in national accounts data (see paragraph 45).

In its assessment of “data adequacy“ of official T-TPLF sources, IMF Report No, 15/300 stated “as of August 26, 2015” (p.8):

General: Data provision has shortcomings that hamper surveillance…

Government finance statistics: Despite recent improvements, government fiscal statistics continue to be affected by shortcomings in terms of coverage…

Monetary statistics: Monetary survey data for commercial banks are subject to substantial revisions…

Financial statistics: Information gaps about the financial sector have implications for conducting an in-depth assessment of financial sector health…

Balance of payments: Balance of payments data require improvements in coverage, valuation, timing, and classification of current account transactions…  An exploratory survey needs to be conducted to verify the actual investment made in Ethiopia and to establish the universe of the enterprises with private cross border capital.

Why the hell are the IMF and World Bank in 2015 using “fiscal statistics [that] continue to be affected by shortcomings”, data with “information gaps” that “have implications for conducting an in-depth assessment of financial sector,” and “monetary survey data subject to substantial revisions”, etc.?

Could it be that they are trying to con-vince us about things that exist only in the computer codes of their economic models?  (I did not say con us.)

The simple and incontrovertible fact of the matter is that the statistics used by the World Bank, the IMF and all of the other international poverty pimps to support their claims of exaggerated claims and projections of Ethiopia’s stratospheric “accelerated economic growth” and red-hot performance of key economic sectors are based exclusively (with the exception of a few estimates) on data collected, chopped, diced, sautéed, braised, grilled, roasted, stewed and seasoned in the kitchens of the Central Statistical Agency under the direction and supervision of the Executive Chefs of the T-TPLF.

Just as a brief retrospective!

Back in 2008, the IMF gave “tongue-in-cheek” endorsement to the unreliable and worthless data generated by the T-TPLF statistical office to praise the economic prowess of the T-TPLF.

IMF Country Report (Ethiopia) No. 08/264 (July 2008), stated:

Growth has averaged 11 percent since 2003/04, far exceeding the minimum target of 7 percent in the Program for Accelerated and Sustainable Development (PASDEP), that is estimated to be consistent with keeping the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) within reach.

In the footnotes of that Report on pp. 20-24, the origin of the data indicating an 11 percent growth is not the IMF or some other independent data collection and analysis source but the very same Central Statistics Office of the T-TPLF:   “Sources: Ethiopian authorities; and IMF staff estimates and projections.”

Similarly, the data source for “Financial Soundness Indicators for Banking” is identified as the “National Bank of Ethiopia; and IMF calculations.”

The IMF’s 2013 report (IMF Country Report No. 13/308) is no different.

The data used in the 2013 report also comes from “Ethiopian authorities and IMF staff estimates.” (See e.g. pp. 9-10; 17, 32-39.)

In 2013, the IMF reported Ethiopia’s “GDP growth seen slowing to 6.5 pct in 2012/13 from 8.5 pct.”

In 2012, the IMF reported, “While inflation remains high (21 percent at end-2011/12), real GDP growth, which is estimated at around 7 percent in 2011/12 and is projected to decline to 6.5 percent in subsequent years under the continuation of current policies.

The T-TPLF policies did not change; therefore we should reasonably expect a decline to 6.5 percent in subsequent years.

Not according to the World Bank!

In its November 2015 “Ethiopia’s Great Run” report, the World Bank insists Ethiopia under T-TPLF rule has posted an annual growth rate of 11 percent (sorry, I meant 10.9 percent) for the preceding decade.

What a con job by the World Bank!

My long time readers know that I have been fighting the World Bank’s lies, damned lies and statislies for some time now. (Please don’t ask me where the Ethiopian economists are in fighting the World Bank’s world of lies?)

In January 2015, I posted a commentary entitled, “World Bank-ruptcy in Ethiopia” challenging the World Bank’s lies about the success of the T-TPLF’s “Growth and Transformation Plan” about the World Bank’s “Deception Games” of displacement, deracination, forced resettlement and a kinder and gentler form of ethnic cleansing  in the Gambella region of Western Ethiopia.

On February 2, 2015, I posted a commentary entitled, “The World Bank and Ethiopia’s ‘Growth and Transformation’” debunking the World Bank’s clever narrative aimed at extolling the skillful management of the Ethiopian economy by the  T-TPLF and its own self-glorification that it and the other donors and loaners have played a central and decisive role in lifting out of poverty and transforming a once famine-stricken country into a shining example of loan- and aid-based development (an oxymoronic claim on its face).

On February 8, 2015, I posted a commentary entitled, “Ethiopia’s “Odious Debt” to the Odious World Bank”.  “Odious debt” is “illegitimate national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interests of the nation and therefore should not be enforceable against the people of the debtor nation.”

In that commentary, I asked the question: “Are the people of Ethiopia responsible for the World Bank’s “odious debt” accumulated by the T-TPLF?”

I also answered it: HELL, NO!

I won’t go through the other commentaries I have written exposing the lies, damned lies and statislies of the World Bank. They are all on my website at almariam.com.

I have been outing the lies of not just the World bank but also their panhandling minions, the T-TPLF.

In June 2010, I wrote a commentary entitled, “The Voodoo Economics of Meles Zenawi” challenging the late Meles Zenawi’s claims of 12 percent annual growth which was reminiscent of the proverbial Ethiopian bull that gave birth to a calf (or in Amharic “bere welede”). (I did not say Meles’ bull s**t about economic growth.)

In June 2011, I wrote a commentary entitled, “Ethiopia: The Fakeonomics of Meles Zenawi” debunking Meles Zenawi’s “Growth and Transformation Plan” (GTP) and demonstrating that it was an ‘economic plan’ which floated on a sea catchphrases, clichés, slogans, buzzwords, platitudes, truisms and bombast. (I did not say a bull s**t economic plan.)

In March 2009, Meles Zenawi  bragged that he expected the Ethiopian economy to grow by 12.8 percent.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) disagreed in the same month stating that given the global economic crises Ethiopia could expect only about 6% economic growth.

Meles Zenawi dismissively countered IMF experts who pointed out the discrepancies:

We have differences with the international financial institutions when we predict our economic growth, but we usually agree on the economic growth statistics at the end of each year.

The question remains: Did the Ethiopian economy grow by 10.9 percent  (not 11 percent) over the past decade?

“Ethiopia’s Great Run”: Garbage in, Garbage Out

The World Bank’s latest report  “Ethiopia’s Great Run” is simply a “garbage data in, garbage data out” report that is “useless trash that deserves to be thrown in the garbage”,  to borrow a phrase from the late Meles Zenawi.

“Ethiopia’s Great Run” is metaphor swiped from the annual run in Addis Ababa.

On November 29, 2009, exactly 6 years ago today, I wrote a commentary entitled, “The Great Ethiopian Run to Freedom” on the occasion of the annual “Great Ethiopian Run” that year.

In that piece, I argued that the “Great Ethiopian Run” was the Great Ethiopian Run to Freedom.

I said that “Run” was fundamentally an act of mass civil disobedience thinly disguised as a running event. The multitudes were not just running for freedom, they were also running away from tyranny and dictatorship, despair and hopelessness, and from their daily life of indignity and humiliation under the ruthless dictatorship of the T-TPLF.

The World Bank with its “Great Run” metaphor wants to suggest the T-TPLF is winning the marathon for economic growth.

The report purports to “address two questions: What explains Ethiopia’s growth acceleration? How can it be sustained?”

So the World Bank claims:

Ethiopia’s economic growth has been remarkably rapid and stable over the past decade.

Accelerated economic progress started in 1992 with a shift to an even higher gear in 2004.

The recent growth acceleration was part of a broader and very successful development experience.

Growth was concentrated in services and agriculture on the supply side, and, private consumption and investment on the demand side.

Growth decompositions reveal relatively high contributions from total factor productivity and structural change.

Ethiopia stands out in many ways, including in the economic strategy that paved the way to success.

Heterodox financing arrangements supported one of the highest public investment rates in the world.

Ethiopia’s economic strategy was unique.

Economic growth was driven primarily by structural improvements.

Public infrastructure investment, facilitated partly by restrained government consumption, was the key structural driver of growth.

The strong contribution of infrastructure investment arises from a substantial physical infrastructure expansion combined with their high returns.

Ethiopia’s growth acceleration was also supported by positive demographic effects.

Agricultural output increases were driven by strong yield growth and increases in area cultivated.

The factors associated with agricultural production growth include extension services, remoteness and farmer’s education.

Recent agricultural growth is largely explained by high government spending on extension services, roads, education as well as favourable price incentives.

The report concludes:

Following a decade-long spell of double digit growth on the back of a strategy and performance that seemingly emulates the East Asian developmental states, including China, one might assume that such high growth rates can be sustained in the future on the back of the same strategy that worked so well in the past.

What a crock of s**t!!!

Let me just say a word or two about “agricultural growth” in the World Bank report.

In 2010, the late Meles declared that he would consider his government a success if Ethiopians were able to eat three meals a day.

Meals, if I am not mistaken, usually come from agricultural production.

Excuse me! I meant from international panhandling.

In November 2015, the U.N. issued a warning that 15 million Ethiopians could starve to death unless international food aid is delivered to them soon.

In February 2014, it was reported that “Ethiopia finds itself in critical need of donors’ assistance, in order to feed 2.7 million people.”  In 2014, “No fewer than 2.7 million Ethiopians may need food assistance in spite of the reported bumper harvest of 231 million quintals of grains in the 2013 fiscal year.”

In 2013, Ethiopia received nearly $700m in humanitarian aid to feed over 4 million people.

In September 2012, “The Ethiopian government announced last month that 3.7 million of its citizens will require humanitarian assistance between August and December of this year, up from 3.2 million in January.”

In 2011, international humanitarian food aid to Ethiopia, the bulk of it US aid, amounted to nearly $500 million.

In August 2010, UN FAO reported, “An estimated 5.2 million [Ethiopians] still depend on emergency food assistance and agencies agree on a severe situation of high hunger in the long term.”

In August 2009, it was reported that  “Millions of impoverished Ethiopians face the threat of malnutrition and possibly starvation this winter in what is shaping up to be the country’s worst food crisis for decades. Estimates of the number of people who need emergency food aid have risen steadily this year from 4.9 million in January to 5.3 million in May and 6.2 million in June.”

The World Bank raves about Ethiopia’s agricultural growth under the T-TPLF.

Does the world Bank know more than 15 million people in Ethiopia TODAY are in need of food aid by the beginning of 2016, according to the U.N.?

Need I say more?

For the World Bank, the IMF and all the other international poverty pimps who pimp the T-TPLF, the death of one person is tragic. But the deaths of 15 million Ethiopians in a preventable and needless famine is just a statistic.

I get it! I know what the international poverty pimps are trying to do for the T-TPLF.

The international poverty pimps want to keep the T-TPLF in power because the T-TPLF makes business in Ethiopia good for them.

The international poverty pimps want to tell Ethiopians and the world that they are doing good in Ethiopia; they are lifting the poor and improving their lives and saving millions of famine-stricken Ethiopians from mass starvation.

The fact remains that despite the incredible claims of economic growth attested by the World Bank and the other international poverty pimps, tens of millions of Ethiopians are starving to death under T-TPLF rule.

The fact remains millions of young Ethiopians today remain unemployed and trapped in hopelessness. “There is no official unemployment rate, but youth unemployment, some experts reckon, may be as high as 70%.” That was true in 2007; it is true today.

The fact remains there is no rule of law and human rights violations are widespread in Ethiopia TODAY!

I don’t doubt the World Bank has a right to its opinion about the stratospheric “accelerated economic growth” in Ethiopia managed by the T-TPLF.

But the World Bank does not have the right to invent its own facts; it does not have the right to use facts invented for it by liars who claim with a straight face they won the national election by 100 percent; it does not have the right to collude with others to invent and concoct (I think they call it “estimates”)  facts; and it does not have the right to dress up lies in the robes of institutional respectability and vomit it on a fed-up Ethiopian public.

Whether or not the T-TPLF has accomplished “double-digit” economic growth over the past decade is not a matter of wishful thinking, public relations or statislies by the international poverty pimps.

It is a matter of evidence: accurate, complete, reliable and comprehensive statistical evidence that is systematically and carefully collected, analyzed and verified.

Such evidence cannot be invented, fabricated, manufactured, contrived, concocted or cut from whole cloth by the T-TPLF, the IMF, the World Bank or any other unholy conclave of international poverty pimps.

“Ethiopia is stuck thanks to its paranoid elite.” The Economist Magazine

In May 2015, The Economist magazine in an article entitled, “Neither a sprint nor a marathon”,  wrote:

When a new Chinese ambassador arrived in Addis Ababa in February, he presented an unexpectedly awkward message to his hosts. La Yifan told the ruling elite—behind firmly closed doors—that it must discard the isolationism of the past and open up an economy in which the flow of money and information is still restricted. Banking and telecoms are almost antediluvian (see chart). Investors are frustrated. Trade lags expectations. After years of praising the government, the Chinese are now singing from the same hymn sheet as Ethiopia’s Western critics.

… The problem is a lack of courage [by]  many in the Ethiopian government, ruling party and security apparatus… The fear of being overthrown looms behind the elite’s reluctance to reform.

The situation has become worse not better since the death in 2012 of Meles Zenawi…  By force of personality, intellect and ties forged in battle he could on occasion shift the system forward. Admittedly, he hated the private sector and civil society. But at least he removed logjams…

The prime minister [Hailemariam] is no Meles… Before ministers make decisions now they often need to seek the consent of the old guard. And ethnic Tigrayans, of whom Meles was one, still control the army, security services, telecoms and foreign affairs. It will take at least another decade for them to retire or die…

The new prime minister[Hailemariam] is a reasonable and, to some extent, reform-minded man. But he is a relatively weak figure…

One senior member of the Chinese community in Ethiopia describes, with some frustration, what he sees as the country’s big problem: that in China the central government dominates the regions but in Ethiopia everything is federal… Overall, many Chinese see a country that is dotted with too many powerful barons.

What the Chinese won’t say but many Western observers do is that political repression also weakens the system. Young people are angry and jobless. Outlets for their frustration are quickly shut off. Sensible opposition leaders are pushed into exile or prison, ceding the field to hotheads. Universities have grown more than tenfold but there are insufficient jobs for all these bright new graduates.

Ethiopia is stuck thanks to its paranoid elite.

So, the international poverty pimps at the World Bank, the IMF and elsewhere should know, “Ethiopia’s Great Run” is “neither a sprint nor a marathon”.

“Ethiopia’s Great Run” is a lie, a damned lie and a statislie! It is a “forged illusion”.

Just one last question for the World Bank: If Ethiopia is such shining example of economic growth, “Why is Ethiopia the Second Poorest Country on the Planet? (For the answer, read my June 2014 commentary by the same title.)

18 U.S. Code § 1001 – “Knowingly and willfully using any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry”

It is a crime for agencies and institutions under the “jurisdiction” of the United States Government to engage in official publication of materially false, misleading and deceptive statements or information.

18 U.S. Code § 1001 provides,

[W]hoever… in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully— (1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; (2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or (3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry; shall be fined under this title, imprisoned…

I have heard rumors that the United States Government is the “largest shareholder” in the World Bank Group.

Is the World Bank Group “within the jurisdiction of the executive” branch of the U.S. Government?

I will make the World Bank an offer it can’t refuse!

If the World Bank stops telling lies, damned lies and statislies about the T-TPLF-led economic growth in Ethiopia, I will stop telling the truth about the World Bank’s lies, damned lies and statislies to the world.

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