finance

Can development really be delivered by investing in private banks?

Duncan Green - April 11, 2014

Peter Chowla of the Bretton Woods Project introduces its new report, which asks why the World Bank is still stuck in pre-crisis thinking about finance and what civil society should do about it. ‘Banksters’ have become famous since the financial crisis just five years ago. Media portrayals of New York’s ‘Wall Street’ or the ‘City’ in London have frequently vilified bankers. Though Occupy Wall Street …

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Development Impact Bonds and Impact Investing – genuine Impact, or snake oil?

admin - August 2, 2013

The private finance people in development baffle me. They speak a different language; great swirling clouds of jargon, the fuzziest of fuzzwords, all laced with a level of macho market can-do talk that makes me deeply suspicious. Baffled but sceptical – not a good place to be. And there’s a lot going on at the moment – new ideas, a caravan of conferences and seminars, …

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From pinstripes to poverty: a refugee banker’s first 100 days at Oxfam

admin - January 25, 2013

Oxfam is always keen to employ unusual suspects, none more so than Will Martindale, a banker turned “do gooder” (right, and no, that isn’t his Oxfam desk). Here he reflects on his first 100 days working among the (supposed) angels. Banking. Most hate it. Few understand it. And I miss it. I miss the pace, the energy, and the super smart people fluent in numerous languages. …

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What does Bill Gates' leaked report say about aid, tax and development?

admin - September 29, 2011

Take a look at the leaked report by Bill Gates to the G20, which got a good deal of media coverage because of its positive noises about the Financial Transactions Tax. Actually, the rest of the report is at least as interesting. Firstly, it’s not actually the final report, but a 7 page ‘technical note’ on the key financing proposals. The report itself is going …

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Why do we know so little about how poor people 'do' development?

admin - July 20, 2011

I’ve just been reading the draft of a review by Charlotte Sterrett of climate change adaption experiences in South Asia. It’s great, and I’ll link to it when it’s published, but one conclusion set me thinking more widely: ‘While autonomous adaptation is likely to become more common and widespread than planned adaptation, most research and policy dialogue so far has focused on the latter. Research …

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Ending the Doomsday Cycle of global finance

admin - March 4, 2010

‘Each time the system runs into problems, the Federal Reserve quickly lowers interest rates to revive it. These crises appear to be getting worse and worse.’ So begins a sobering analysis by Peter Boone and Simon Johnson in the CentrePiece, the journal of the LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance. The argument is contained in the two graphics. First the  historical record – as private sector …

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Portfolios of the Poor – a great new book

admin - October 13, 2009

Portfolios of the Poor gave me the same feeling of excitement as the World Bank’s epic ‘Voices of the Poor’ study. Both of them are the fruit of intense scrutiny of the real lives of poor people that uncovers insights and destroys stereotypes. Poor people are most definitely not financial illiterates, but often sophisticated managers of complex financial portfolios that are essential to their survival. …

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The UN lays into finance, speculation and the IMF: UNCTAD's Trade and Development Report 2009

admin - September 17, 2009

Another day, another UN report, this time the Trade and Development Report 2009, from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), released last week. It’s surprisingly forthright. Set up in 1964, in the table-thumping days of the New International Economic Order, in recent years UNCTAD had become markedly more cautious, not least under its current secretary general, the distinctly un-fiery Supachai Panitchpakdi, (a former WTO …

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