Week of January 10, 2014

Our first New and Noteworthy of 2014 features different perspectives on financial literacy, an investigation into debt collection practices, and a resource for commentaries on global income inequality.

  • Tilman Ehrbeck of CGAP takes a different take on “financial literacy” forHuffington Post by exploring the intersection of language and finance when designing services for illiterate consumers.
  • Meanwhile, Helaine Olen explores the conventional definition of financial literacy (education around the basics of money management) claiming it is “both a failure and a scam.”
  • In India, the Committee on Comprehensive Financial Services for Small Businesses and Low Income Households has published its long awaited report. We’ll be blogging about it soon.
  • In the past few months, there has been a lot of press on the pros and cons of unconditional cash transfer programs. This article from de Correspondent of the Netherlands investigates the history of similar initiatives in the US and Canada, including forgotten research pilots showing potential successes of minimum income programs.
  • Also from the Netherlands – an article wondering whether Bitcoin could lead to a future of low or no cost international remittances or if the risks are too great for feeless transfers to become reality.
  • Project Syndicate’s most recent “Focal Point” feature gathers a number of perspectives, policy recommendations, and commentaries around the issue of global income inequality.
  • new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation explores the causes and consequences of medical debt among Americans who have health insurance. The report finds cost-sharing health plans (even when relatively modest) can prove to be unaffordable because expenses are often unexpected and most Americans do not have adequate savings to deal with the financial shock. 
  • 30 million Americans are currently being pursued by debt collectors. Of these, more than 100,000 report being subject to illegal tactics, an issue currently being investigated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Al-Jazeera America reports on some of the more unscrupulous tactics of debt collection agencies in this investigative piece.
  • From The New York Timesa map of poverty distribution in America; highlights of a study that finds a correlation between diabetes-related hospital visits and times of the month when food budgets are stretched, and the use of psychometric testing by our friends at the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab to determine credit worthiness.

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