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October 2007

Land, the single greatest asset for the poor

In 2006, the income of Chinese urban residents was 3.28 times that of the rural ones, where 700 million farmers or 56 percent of total population live.

The new survey from the Cato Institute shows how secure land rights can reinvigorate China's rural economy. The graph (below) displays a correlation between issuance of contracts and certificates and farmers' mid and long-term investment in land.

Can Africa surpass Japan?

If a single African country were to incorporate the best practices that are already in place across the sub-Sahara region, it would rank eighth worldwide. This was one of the observations that business leaders made last Friday at an award ceremony for the top two African reformers – Ghana and Kenya.

Primer on remittances

Global recorded remittances to developing countries reached $204 billion in 2006. This amount, which has been growing at almost 30 percent a year, is twice the size of total development aid.

Remittances hold a big promise for development but a lack of transparency and a high volume of unrecorded money flows, pose security risks and keep the costs high.

Profitable microfinance and its spillovers

What has very low default rates, relatively high administrative costs and high interest rates? The answer is: microfinance loans.

Despite the unfavorable expense ratios relative to commercial banks – the cost of lending one dollar is below four cents for a traditional bank compared with at least 10, and in some cases over 20 cents, for microlenders - microfinance institutions (MFIs) are beginning to attract serious money.

And the vote is in…

Alexis Sampson and Michael Jarvis sum up this year's International Business Forum:

The lights dimmed in the Preston Auditorium and the tension rose as the results were calculated. Having generated and then prioritized host of recommendations over the course of the IBF, delegates voted to rank their final top ten. Despite the risky reliance on electronic voting machines, the system worked and the results were reassuringly conclusive.