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access to finance

Do we need to worry about enforcement of laws?

Mohammad Amin's picture

It goes without saying that rules, laws and regulations are meaningless if they are not enforced. Yet, the bulk of the literature on the effects of various laws is completely silent on the enforcement issue. The implicit assumption is that measures based on laws on the books are a reasonably good proxy for actual enforcement of laws and so an explicit reference to enforcement is not required. Is there any reason to think this is a plausible assumption?

What microfinance really needs: women's lib

Ryan Hahn's picture

I saw Muhammad Yunus speak a few years ago, and the thing that struck me most in his speech was his insistence on the power of microfinance to help increase the opportunities available to women. That's why the findings from a recent evaluation of microfinance in Sri Lanka in which female enterprises gained little from access to finance were troubling.

Remittances and microfinance

Ryan Hahn's picture

CGAP has just released a new report on The Global Financial Crisis and Its Impact on Microfinance, and the picture is looking mixed for microfinance over the next few years. Microfinance institutions (MFIs) that rely on commercial funding are facing a refinancing threat, exacerbated by possible currency mismatches.

Could access to finance help reduce risky sexual behaviors?

Ryan Hahn's picture

If access to savings accounts helps the poor manage risk better, the answer may very well be "yes". A new working paper on Transactional sex as a response to risk in western Kenya reports that sex workers engage in better compensated but riskier sex acts following unexpected health shocks. From the abstract:

The curious idea of physiognomy and a question for Kiva

Ryan Hahn's picture

The Economist discusses new research that revives the curious idea of physiognomy - the notion that people's characters are revealed in their faces. In short, researchers found that the perceived trustworthiness of someone's face correlated with his or her credit history.

Big news in mobile banking

Ryan Hahn's picture

Zain has announced the roll-out of Zap, an initiative to bring mobile banking to millions in Africa. It looks like Safaricom will now have some serious competition. has the details:

Providing the most comprehensive and accessible package of mobile banking features currently available on the African continent, Zap will be initially available in Kenya and Tanzania prior to the launch in Uganda.

The new book at the old World Bank

Ryan Hahn's picture

The boundaries between traditional publishing and blogs/wikis is breaking down further and further. Exhibit A is the recently published book Creative Capitalism, which was built around a blog of the same name with many top-notch contributors. Now a research fellow at the Center for Global Development is doing something similar for a book on microfinance.

Credit and growth: Which drives which?

Ryan Hahn's picture

This is a question that is stalking financial policymakers: Does credit growth drive economic growth, or does growth in the real sector drive credit growth? If the latter, then policymakers in emerging markets might do well to repress the financial system - the likelihood of crises will probably be reduced, while growth will not be harmed. But a new paper provides a bit of evidence that points in the opposite direction.