Displaying all posts by Timothy Ogden
December 15, 2014
A few weeks ago I attended the first day of the New England Universities Development Consortium’s annual conference. It’s a good place to see the latest economics research on a pretty wide variety of development topics, including microfinance. During one session that included presentations of four papers, I noticed that three were about “savings” but each, on closer inspection, had a very different definition of “savings.”
One paper was examining the demand for credit versus savings, but the savings in question was money set aside for less than...
December 11, 2014
The past few weeks have seen plenty of ruminations about Uber’s potential invasions of privacy and the amount of data Google collects from its users. The concern is that these companies could use this data for nefarious purposes (although your definition of nefarious may vary). An Uber executive, for instance, suggested that the company...
August 18, 2014
We write a good deal about remittances because they are a big part of the financial lives of many poor households—on the sending and receiving end. Remittances receive a lot of attention in aggregate because so much money is flowing: a reasonable estimate is that more than $600 billion is moving annually and that the vast majority of that is flowing to poor households. On Friday...
July 17, 2014
Just about everyone agrees that international remittances should be cheaper. If you run the numbers on international remittance flows, incomes of recipients and transaction costs, you can make a case that reducing remittance costs would be among the highest ROI interventions for raising incomes of poor households in the developing world (and given what we’re learning about the use and benefits of cash transfers, there’s good reason to believe the money would...
June 11, 2014
Whether it is education generally or domain specific skills, it seems obvious that imparting knowledge and skills should be an effective approach for improving outcomes. What’s not so obvious is how to deliver useful knowledge and skills. A few new papers shed some light on two areas of specific interest to us: financial literacy and business training for microentrepreneurs.
A new paper based on a two-year, in-school,...
May 28, 2014
Among the useful insights from behavioral economics (or behavioral science, if you prefer) is a greater understanding of the difficulties everyone faces following through on our good intentions to save for the future. People routinely say that they would like to save more—to build a cushion, for retirement, for a future vacation—but when the time comes to put money away, it gets spent instead.
Some of the...
April 9, 2014
There has been plenty written on the failure of microcredit-funded enterprises to grow or achieve more than minimal profitability. If you’re curious why microenterprises don’t grow, I recommend reading a new piece that provides some insight into the life of a microentrepreneur. It’s from an unexpected source: a Fast Company magazine article about the emerging world of task-based “...
April 7, 2014
Two weeks ago I attended a Payments Bootcamp put on by Glenbrook Partners (a 2-day class they hold several times a year) to learn more about how the payments industry works behind the scenes. There is a lot to learn. Two days allows more than just scratching the surface, but not much more. While the class is focused on the payments infrastructure in the United States particularly, the material illuminates the evolution of mobile money and digital payments in the developing world.
A better understanding of the economics of the...
March 13, 2014
Lately I've been noticing a lot of writing about innovation inanely citing Steve Jobs (“People don't know what they want until you show it to them”) and/or Henry Ford (“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”) quotations about customers not knowing what they want. An example last week, in an otherwise reasonable piece about how to measure economic progress, caused my frustration to boil over.
March 6, 2014
Global remittance flows command a rightfully growing amount of attention. Recently Pew published a visualization of World Bank data on international remittances that helps show the scale and corridors of transfers. Of note, FAI’s Alicia Brindisi has been writing about south-to-south remittances and the huge market they represent.
Remittance flows are, of course, primarily driven by...