Displaying all posts from 2012
December 21, 2012
The FAI team is grateful for your interest and enagement with our work. We encourage you to check out our jobs board to review the requirements of 2 new positions at FAI -- the Post-Doc Fellowship and the Writer/Managing Editor positions. Additionally, we hope you'll write us and let us know what you think about our blogs and the Big Questions via online comments or directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you and your families a Happy New Year!...
December 14, 2012
One of the many important questions in the transition to mobile and/or electronic money is who will bear the costs associated with using the system. This question is particularly salient since the Kenyan government announced it was planning to begin taxing mobile money transfers, adding to the cost of the system. The Kenyan government seems to believe that operators will absorb the cost of the tax, but others suggest that it will be passed on to consumers,...
December 13, 2012
Albert Hirschman died on Monday. He was one of the most creative and broad-ranging development economists of the past fifty years.
His early work at Harvard was fairly technical, but he’ll be remembered for his later explorations of ideology and the evolution of ideas. He is best known for asking why bad situations, especially in developing economies, and bad ideas, here in the US,...
December 6, 2012
Poor households in developing countries face large and varied risks. Many agriculture-dependent households, for example, are at risk of drought- or flood-induced crop failures or livestock deaths. The death of a family member often implies having to fund expensive burial ceremonies, and if the deceased was the household’s primary earner, replacing her/his stream of income is an even bigger problem. A short “Client Math” survey by the Microinsurance Learning and Knowledge (MILK) project of Compartamos borrowers in Mexico, for instance, shows that funeral costs alone (...
November 30, 2012
A few weeks ago I wrote that a transition to electronic payments will not be a boon to poor households unless the financial systems that undergird payments become more focused on serving poor households. It’s vitally important to think of the value and benefits of electronic payments within a system.
A couple of recent news stories highlight what a financial system enabled by electronic payments can do, even without the active cooperation of traditional...
November 26, 2012
We do our best (not always successfully) to keep up with new research relevant to finance, poverty and development. Today, I’ll be sharing highlights from some new papers by FAI affiliate Sendhil Mullainathan.
In “Behavioral Design: A New Approach to Development Policy,” Mullainathan and Saugato Datta advocate for employing a behaviorally-informed economic perspective to design development policies and programs. Since behavioral...
November 20, 2012
In the last week, two significant deals in the world of microfinance investment have been announced. First, Bamboo Finance announced that it was acquiring "a controlling interest" in Accion Investments, a $105 million for-profit investment fund started by Accion. In context, Bamboo Finance had $195 million of assets under management. Yesterday, Microvest GMG Asset Management...
November 16, 2012
If there’s one issue that’s most difficult for microfinance practitioners to explain to the lay public, it’s high interest rates. As Elisabeth Rhyne describes it, at some point the numbers get so high that people become outraged and stop listening altogether. Most recently, the issue was put back in the public eye through Hugh Sinclair’s...
November 5, 2012
Thea Garon, Timothy Ogden
After nearly 30 years of the microcredit movement, we've finally started seeing rigorous impact evaluations in the last few years. Randomized control trials of some variant of microcredit have been conducted in India, Morocco, Mongolia and the Philippines. Each of these trials adds to the evidence, but each is in a specific context, with differences in contracts, eligibility, loan size and structure, and most importantly among the borrowers. That’s why it’s still exciting to see new trials which provide evidence in a different context.
October 19, 2012
Thea Garon, Timothy Ogden
In microfinance circles, people tend to be fond of asking the question, “Does microfinance work?” Over the last decade, countless studies have attempted to answer this question by studying the net impact of microcredit on the lives of borrowers. Yet, these impact studies don’t necessarily tell us much about the nuances of how organization-level factors might influence the final impact of microcredit. NYU Economist Hunt Alcott and FAI Affiliate...