Week of August 26, 2013

On a special Monday edition of New and Noteworthy, we find some new insights into debates we’ve covered at FAI in the past – the ethics of RCTs, the pros and cons of social impact bonds, the hype of cash transfer programs, and using behavioral economics to inform policy.

  • In response to a recent feature on This American Life focused on the work of Heifer International and GiveDirectly, Chris Blattman wrote a blog post both advocating for cash transfer but also exploring the ethics of RCTs.
  • Meanwhile Berk Ozler at the World Bank explores the data and research behind the hype of transfer programs.
  • Social Impact Bonds are gaining traction in the social investment sector but not without critics. Recently Adrian Brown wrote “cashable savings” undermines the bonds while Steve Goldberg counters that funders should just be more selective when using this tool.
  • Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, recently wrote an opinion piece that makes the case for using proportionate regulation (regulation associated with various levels of risk) to advance financial inclusion and foster innovation in developing countries.
  • Microfinance products like savings accounts and loans have many applications, not just funding small businesses. For example, a new smart card helps women with maternal health and family insurance, The New York Times explores applications in providing access to water and sanitation, and farmers may seek to benefit from mobile money applications.

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