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Cheap money to Mexico

This extract from the Stanford Social Education Review is a nice overview of microfinance in action in Mexico. One idea: allowing migrant workers to transfer money directly to ATM cards of their relatives back home. The real point, of course, is that it doesn't matter how you do it as long as the transaction costs keep coming down.

What does an unemployed cobra-charmer do?

A survey has declared that the snake-charmer is no longer a relevant profession in India. Apparently the government agrees and now aims to outplace charmers. Government proposed career changes include: barefoot conservation educator, health care provider (especially if you have been bitten by a snake) and wedding entertainer (since they already play the flute). 17 government-funded microloans have already been extended to former-charmers to start such small businesses.

A french kiss for economic reform?

Innovative social marketing in Bulgaria:

"I give a French kiss for a cigarette" is the motto of the campaign launched by Students in the seaside's Varna in view of the Great Smoke Out Day. At a similar initiative in 2003, the students gave about 500 kisses. Being armed with such "dangerous weapons", the organizers hope to convince many people to give up the bad habit, or at least lay down one cigarette.

Human development indicators (v. 2.0)

A excellent interactive feature from the UNDP. The graphics and visualizations track the progress of key development indicators by country and region for the past 30 years, as well as future scenarios for 2015. Some snap shots below (click on the images to expand) – but the best features are interactive and cannot be captured by a screen shot.

Brad Pitt on trade and aid

Across the table, Steve Radelet from the Center for Global Development is running through the standard arguments on trade: comparative advantage, infant industry protection, import substitution. Pitt keeps writing it all down, looking like the journalism major he once was. Then he asks a question… "Shouldn't the argument be, what's not good enough for us is not good enough for them?" Pitt persists. "In the movie business, we can't burn toxic things when we film in the United States.