As a boy growing up in Africa, I always assumed that every country had its own airline. To me, a national airline was just another way a country defined itself, along with its flag, national anthem, and currency. Ghana Airways, which my family often flew (we lived in Kumasi), was a perfect example, with the red, gold and green colors of its national flag painted on every plane. They looked proud and elegant, a perfect symbol of statehood.
Access to banking services is viewed as a key determinant of economic well-being for households, especially in low-income countries. Savings and credit products make it easier for households to align income and expenditure patterns across time, to insure themselves against income and expenditure shocks, as well as to undertake investments in human or physical capital. Up to now, however, there is little cross-country evidence which documents how the use of financial services differs across households and, in particular, how cross-country variation in the structure of the financial sector affects the types of households which are banked. In a recent paper with Martin Brown, we use survey data from 28 transition economies and Turkey to:
- document the use of formal banking services (bank accounts, bank cards and mortgages) across these 29 countries in 2006 and 2010,
- relate this use to an array of household characteristics,
- gauge the relationship between changes in bank ownership and the financial infrastructure (deposit insurance and creditor protection) over time within a country and changes in the use of banking services, and
- assess how cross-country variation in bank ownership structures, deposit insurance and creditor protection affect the composition of the banked population.
OK, the title is deliberatively provocative. But I found a coincidence of two blog posts last week to be quite powerful. Last week we had a blog post from Dave Snowden that challenged the "data to information, information to knowledge and wisdom" continuum that has informed so many of the knowledge management efforts in the non-profit and public sector:
Although much of the news flow regarding oil in recent days has focused on the terrible environmental tragedy off the Gulf of Mexico, another oil-related story has occupied the minds of many market analysts: that of rising oil prices, along with the overall increase in the prices of a whole host of commodities, as the global recovery has taken hold.
The World Bank's new chief economist for Financial and Private Sector Development, Asli Demirgüç-Kunt, has entered the blogosphere with the new All About Finance blog. In her first post, Asli considers whether the financial crisis ought to make us consider turning bureaucrats into bankers. She responds with a resounding "no"!