Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

CGD Policy Blogs


Is Obama's Budget Director an Epistemological Nihilist?

The Institute of Medicine's Roundtable on Evidence-Based Medicine has the weighty job of strategizing about how the American health care behemoth should learn---that is, how doctors, scientists, and other players should generate knowledge about what works and how they should incorporate it into practice. This graph is from the Roundtable's 2008 annual report:

Microfinance Gateway Article on New Impact Studies

Thirty years into the movement, it might seem strange that researchers are still asking whether microfinance reduces poverty. In fact, by the standards used to judge whether drugs are safe and effective in the bloodstreams of people, the safety and effectiveness of microfinance injected into the fabric of villages and barrios remains unproven. Somewhat by chance, 2009 is turning out to be a pivotal year in the study of the impacts of microfinance. A new generation of studies is emerging that promises to give us a clearer view of the effects.

To Fee or Not to Fee (II)

An early post, To Fee or Not to Fee, asked what we are supposed to make of advocates who assail "user fees" in health and education (which charge the poor for the services they receive) while celebrating microcredit, which is characterized by passing most of its costs on to borrowers.

Creepy Movies

Catching up on my RSS feeds after a week of ignoring them, I hit two videos that made my skin crawl a bit. The first is a music video from a group called The Green Children, shot in Bangladesh. The song is "Hear Me Now." It was written "to celebrate the amazing women who are microcredit clients of Grameen Bank." Half the iTunes proceeds will support microcredit in Kerala, India. One shot that bothers me comes near the end and is of a brick breaker.

Wall Street Journal Also Raises Microcredit Bubble Fears

In an article that was published in tomorrow's(!) Wall Street Journal, reporter Ketaki Gokhale emphatically asserts that "a credit crisis is brewing in 'microfinance'":

Here in Ramanagaram, a silk-making city in southern India, Zahreen Taj noticed the change. Suddenly, in the shantytown where she lives, lots of people wanted to loan her money. She borrowed $125 to invest in her husband's vegetable cart. Then she borrowed more.

Gone Lobsterin'

The wife, the boys, and I are heading up to Maine for a week tomorrow, then back to DC for a night, then to a dance camp for another week. So I might not blog. Or I might. If you need something to fill the void, watch how I entered a folkdance competition in England this past weekend---rather bizarre and extravagant, I know. I placed 3rd.