Last year I speculated about the potential impact of the financial crisis on the environment for microfinance.
The 2006 and 2007 Doing Business reports both found that Armenia has been reforming in the area of credit. Armenian lenders can now rely on a credit registry when deciding on loan applications. But have these reforms really had an impact?
Editor's Note: Alan Johnson is a Senior Private Sector Advisor in the World Bank's Investment Climate Advisory Services Group
I have been comparing the differences between manufacturing and services firms in the informal or unregistered sector. There is a rich literature on how and why these firms differ, but it is based on firms in the formal or registered sector. It’s a moot point whether differences between manufacturing and service firms in the formal sector also hold for the informal sector. For example, differences in scale economies between service and manufacturing firms are known to be important for the formal sector, but this is not immediately obvious when comparing these firms in the informal sector.
The common perception of the informal sector is that unregistered businesses are not as efficient as registered or formal businesses. One proposed reason for this is that, by not being registered, informal businesses face severe hardships in accessing finance, markets, public services and government programs. Hence, the usual policy response to informality is simple: try and encourage informal businesses to register.
The World Bank has released its latest Finance and PSD Impact Newsletter. The paper looks at the impact of large-scale bank expansion in Mexico, evaluating the effects of increased access to finance for low-income borrowers.
Has the regulatory burden for Belarusian businesses decreased? According to a new World Bank Country Note on Running a Business in Belarus, progress has indeed been made over time. For example, the number of visits or required meetings with tax officials has significantly decreased from 2005 to 2008: from 3.2 to just 1 visit per year. Also, the percentage of firms reporting incidence of bribes with these tax officials decreased as well.
Though "hackers" and "World Bank" in the same sentence might look like odd bedfellows, the term "hack" originally indicated a clever solution to a technical problem. Hackathons are becoming an increasingly popular way for organizations with a public remit to crowdsource the solution to technical problems that they might not be equipped to solve internally.
For those who are excited by new datasets (come on, I know you're out there...), these last few weeks have been a bonanza. One month ago, the World Bank Group released the Financial Infrastructure report, which provides cross-country measurements of core financial institutions such as credit bureaus and payment systems.
Editor’s Note: Murat Seker and Federica Saliola work in the World Bank's Financial and Private Sector Development Vice Presidency. This blog is a summary of the Country Note prepared for the World Bank's Enterprise Survey. The note for Turkey and several other ECA region countries can be seen at www.enterprisesurveys.org