Thursday, August 11, 2005

Big debt, little debt

The Big debt: Forgive debt in order to make more loans. That's what the World Bank seems to be contemplating in a memo leaked to the press, Inter Press Service reports. "Most countries receiving 100 percent debt cancellation would be classified as 'green light' and therefore become eligible for new borrowing," Geoff Lamb, the Bank's vice president for concessional finance, asserted in the memo that surfaced a few days ago. Another leaked document shows that the International Monetary Fund has been trying to make behind-the-scenes changes that could derail the debt cancellation deal.

The small: Another IPS article notes that some new studies question whether microfinance truly offers a way out of poverty. It seems that the small-scale loan programs help only the creme de la creme of the poor. ”We're really reaching primarily the upper half of those who are in poverty,” the leader of a microcredit program in Haiti said.

3 comments:

Mike Linksvayer said...

"Upper half of those who are in poverty" doesn't sound like "only the creme de la creme of the poor" and half of those who are in poverty is a huge number of people in a place like Haiti where the poverty rate runs at 80%.

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rn said...

Fair enough, Mike. I'd bet, though, that if we pursued the research, we might find that microcredit successes in Haiti would skew to to a smaller and more entrepreneurial group of the poor.

My point is not to denigrate any small-scale credit successes. But some programs of bootstrap capitalism, like merry-go-rounds in Kenya (informal money sharing plans) and savings schemes in India, seem to have a deeper reach. It would be interesting to find out why.