The World Bank's chief economist Paul Romer has resigned from his role after less than two years in the job, according to a memo seen by The Telegraph.

Romer, who made his reputation in the 1980s with his study of economic growth and coined the phrase "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste", is returning to his position as university professor at New York University.

His exit comes a week after Chilean officials claimed the Washington-based bank had treated the country unfairly in one of its key reports on competitiveness rankings. Foreign minister Heraldo Muñoz tweeted that "fake news [had become] fake statistics" while president Michelle Bachelet called the situation "very worrying".

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim told staff in a note on Wednesday that the search for a new chief economist was now underway.

Advertisement

"Paul is an accomplished economist and insightful individual, and we have had many good discussions on geopolitical issues, urbanization, and the future of work," Kim said.

"I appreciated Paul's frankness and honesty, and I know he regrets the circumstances of his departure."

Romer only took on the role in October 2016, saying at the time that "the most exciting part of economics is going beyond knowledge that is only potentially useful to knowledge that is actually useful, and doing so on a scale that touches millions or billions of lives".