Category Archives: development

Malaria: Easterly vs Gates

Bill Easterly is on the warpath, accusing Bill and Melinda Gates of using "phony numbers" when they claim small victories in the war on malaria: False victories can mislead and distract critical malaria efforts. Alas, Mr. and Mrs. Gates are … Continue reading

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Disaster Datapoint of the Day

From Charles Kenny’s paper, "Why Do People Die in Earthquakes?": There is absolutely no overlap between the top twenty most costly insured disasters worldwide 1970-2005 and the top twenty worst catastrophes in terms of lives lost. All of the most … Continue reading

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Zimbabwe Photo of the Day

This quadrillion-dollar check was written back in July. Just as well the amount was rounded off to the nearest million dollars, or the written-out part might not have fit in the space available. (Via Prieur du Plessis, via Humble Money)

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Creditor Rights, Risk Aversion, and Justice

A paper from Viral Acharya, Yakov Amihud, and Lubomir Litov shows something which makes a lot of intuitive sense: if you beef up creditor rights, you beef up corporate risk-aversion — and that can be bad for growth. They conclude: … Continue reading

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Rant of the Day: Daniel Davies on Afrobollocks

Poor Edmund Sanders. He writes a perfectly well-intentioned article about Ethiopia’s famine, complete with interview with prime minister Meles Zenawi, only to run into the acid pen of Dsquared: Bonus points for the mention of "the Chinese model" in a … Continue reading

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Mobile Banking for the Poor

At a press conference this morning in Mumbai, mobile-banking company Obopay announced an alliance with Grameen Solutions — an alliance with an extraordinarily ambitious goal. In ten years’ time, the companies said, they would like to see 1 billion of … Continue reading

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The Problems With For-Profit Microlending

After posting about the spat between Muhammad Yunus and Compartamos yesterday, I found a recent Economist editorial in favor of the Mexican for-profit lender. Since it’s one of the more lucid arguments in favor of the for-profit model, it’s worth … Continue reading

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Muhammad Yunus vs Microlending “Loan Sharks”

BusinessWeek’s Steve Hamm has a good overview of the latest dust-up in the world of microfinance, where industry Top Dog Muhammad Yunus has started lashing out at for-profit microlenders like Mexico’s Compartamos, accusing them of "moving into the same mental … Continue reading

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Zimbabwe Datapoints of the Day

Comparing Old Mutual’s share price in London and Harare, Josh Giersch concludes that there are now 35 billion Zimbabwean dollars to one US dollar – up from a mere 17 billion on Friday. Which would put annualized inflation, he says … Continue reading

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Putting Vulture Funds in Perspective

Daniel Davies has a spirited and intelligent attack on vulture funds, explaining why I’m misguided in my attempts to defend them. He makes some good points, which I’ll come to in a second. And I do feel a little bit … Continue reading

Posted in bonds and loans, development, hedge funds | 4 Comments

The Other Side of the Vulture Fund Story

I missed this on Sunday – coincidentally, a day before Portfolio’s story about vulture funds came out – but Tony Allen-Mills has a very good article in the UK’s Sunday Times about the long-running fight between Elliott Associates and Congo-Brazzaville. … Continue reading

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Defending the Vulture Funds

Ooh boy. Condé Nast Portfolio, in its July issue, is running a major article about vulture funds by Joshua Hammer. Hammer certainly did a lot of reporting: he not only spoke to high-profile vulture investor Michael Sheehan, but even went … Continue reading

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Left-Wing Democracy in Action, Ecuador Edition

As you surely know, Ecuador is in the process of putting together a new constitution. And this week’s report on Ecuadorean politics and economics from Analytica Securities in Quito (you are on their email list, right?) outlines few of the … Continue reading

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Why Some Countries Find it So Hard to Get Rich

Nobel laureates are always a big draw at the Milken Conference, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that the room was full when Michael Spence moderated a panel on the relationship between growth and development featuring Myron Scholes. It … Continue reading

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Chart of the Day: Microfinance Fund Performance

If you invest your money in microfinance funds, you’re doing good. But are you doing well? The World Bank seeks to answer that question today, by releasing the first performance figures on how microfinance investment funds are doing. And it … Continue reading

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Microfinance and Small Business: Not in Conflict

James Surowiecki, in this week’s New Yorker, makes a strong case for supporting small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries. He notes: In high-income countries, these companies create more than sixty per cent of all jobs, but in the developing … Continue reading

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Development: The Good News

Bill Easterly, in a nutshell, says that we’ve spent $2 trillion on aid over the past 50 years and have nothing to show for it. Charles Kenny says he’s entirely wrong, in a new paper saying that if you look … Continue reading

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How and Whether Cisco Helps Sub-Saharan Africa

One of the biggest sponsors of the World Economic Forum at Davos this year was Cisco. That’s entirely natural: Cisco is huge and global and powerful, which is all you need in Davos. And Cisco does its part to make … Continue reading

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Optimism over Africa

Paul Collier and other old Africa hands gathered in Davos on Wednesday to talk about "Africa’s governance dividend". The past few years have seen Africa’s strongest growth in living memory, and the mood was cautiously optimistic – risks of a … Continue reading

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Why Microcredit Works

Karol Boudreaux and Tyler Cowen look at microcredit in the Wilson Quarterly. This is my favorite insight: Sometimes microcredit leads to more savings rather than more debt. That sounds paradoxical, but borrowing in one asset can be a path toward … Continue reading

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Sino-African Datapoint of the Day

Pascal Zachary: There are roughly 2,000 African students in China, most of whom are pursuing engineering and science courses. According to Juma, that number is expected to double over the next two years, making China “Africa’s leading destination for science … Continue reading

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Afghan Microlenders Also Take Deposits

Caitlin Liu has a wonderful story today on microfinance in Afghanistan; do check out the slide show, too. The bit which jumped out at me was this: Usually run by non-profit groups, microfinance agencies offer loans to the poor without … Continue reading

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Silly Idea of the Day: A Micro-Finance CDO

Is there something very weird about this? Citigroup has announced a new $165M CDO backed by 30 micro-finance loans to entrepreneurs in 13 countries including Bosnia, Tajikistan, Mexico and El Salvador. What does the “micro” mean in “micro-finance”? Less than … Continue reading

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Microlending in Mexico: Still Extortionate

BusinessWeek has a big (3,000-word) story on Mexican microlending, by Keith Epstein and Geri Smith. It’s heavy on the anecdote, and it comes down hard on one lender in particular: Ricardo Salinas’s Banco Azteca, which specializes in consumer finance. I’m … Continue reading

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Second Thoughts on Malawi’s Fertilizer Subsidies

When the word "simply" appears in a headline about development issues, be very, very cautious. That’s what happened in story that the NYT splashed on its front page Sunday: "Ending Famine, Simply by Ignoring the Experts", by Celia Dugger. The … Continue reading

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