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The LA Times on remittances

The LA Times has a great series of articles on the potential of remittances: the new foreign aid. Thanks to Alex Tabarrok for the find.

Today, remittances are the largest, fastest-growing and most reliable source of income for developing countries. Poor nations reported $167 billion in receipts from overseas workers last year, according to the World Bank, more than all foreign aid. Including unrecorded transactions, the bank estimates that the total exceeded $250 billion.

...Mexico's annual remittance inflow has doubled since 2002 and reached $20 billion last year, second only to petroleum as a generator of wealth for the country.

Other developing nations also depend heavily on their migrants' money. Brazilian laborers in Japan send home more than $2 billion a year, out-earning their country's coffee exports. Remittances bring in more than tea exports do in Sri Lanka and tourism does in Morocco. In Jordan, Lesotho, Nicaragua, Tonga and Tajikistan, they provide more than a quarter of the gross national product.

Here is one scenario of what the aid industry might look like in 2030 if remittances continue to grow.


The nature of remittances Mr. Chairman, I see references over and over again to the remittances of foreign workers in developed countries back to their not-so-developed homelands and so I feel once again compelled to remind my colleagues about the true nature of these flows. The remittances come from very private earnings. Picture yourself working in a foreign country for less than minimum wages, alone, perhaps sleeping in lousy quarters, not understanding all that they say to you, and still you take a substantial part of your earnings and send them home. That’s what these remittances are all about. They are quite close to being like sacred religious donations. Please do not confuse these flows with other financial flows. Do not even think of taxing them or assisting third parties to lay their hands on them. Be extremely careful. Do I exaggerate? I hope so but I have already read in World Bank publications about the securitizing these flows! Come on! Extract from my Voice and Noise

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