East Asia and Pacific
Shangai's piano business is out of tune. Local police have stumbled over a cache of 5000 smuggled pianos. The smugglers go to court over $1 million in upaid customs revenue.
The microcredit movement has been built on the assumption that the poor need credit to invest in microenterprises, which will help them get out of poverty. Household survey data from Indonesia suggest otherwise, with substantial use of microcredit for consumption rather than investment purposes.
Virtual money, when backed by trust in the guarantor, can function like any other currency. QQ coins are online tokens, created by Chinese Internet company Tencent, that can be sold for cash on the Web. The Wall Street Journal writes:
China already provides aid amounting to $2bn (€1.5bn, £1bn) a year, a higher figure than Belgium, Switzerland or Australia. India's estimated total of up to $1bn a year already exceeds that of Finland and Ireland.
Last year SME lending in China reached $691 billion - a mere 24 percent of all loans. Citigroup and HSBC are getting ready to pick up the slack from local banks.
Remittances are the second biggest component of international capital flows (after foreign direct investment). This makes it important to understand how the money gets from a to b - the senders, recipients, delivery channels and costs of remittances.
In the case of Tonga, in the south Pacific, remittances are a very big deal - making up one third of GDP. But the costs of remittances (15-20% of the typical amount remitted) are also among the highest in the world.