CGD Policy Blogs
BBC journalist Madeleine Morris, with producer Leo Hornak, has filed two versions of her report on the Andhra Pradesh microfinance crisis, one audio and one video (below). I think the audio one is particularly good, being twice as long. Both give a good sense of the complexities of the situation, showing the good and the bad. I am not in either.
Lydia Polgreen has just posted (if I can use that verb) a story for the New York Times on the political controversy around Muhammad Yunus. It is a subtle sketch of a situation that, while polarized, is hardly black and white. I was struck by how the quotes, though they come from various sides of the fight, generally rang true:
In an interview at his office here, Mr. Yunus seemed stunned and deeply stung.
In a video-taped interview seven months ago, I expressed a degree of optimism that, historically at least, we had not been over-indebting unacceptable numbers of poor microborrowers, based on an admittedly tenuous inference from high repayment levels in most of the world. Since then, various conversations and data points have left me less comfortable with that inference.
In the last quarter, bombshells have been dropped on microfinance in both India and Bangladesh. I have criticized how both have been delivered---the Andhra Pradesh law for its extremity, its suddenness, and its drafting by officials with vested interests, the Tom Heinemann documentary for its apparently pure accent on the negative.
The nice thing about blogging one's ignorance is that it summons people to one's aid. Since I posted yesterday on Kremlinology in Dhaka, I've had some helpful conversations. Unfortunately, I must perpetuate the syndrome of secrecy that I regretted yesterday: I can't tell you who I talked to. I guess that is common in journalism, but it makes me uncomfortable.
Last November 30, Tom Heinemann premiered his documentary Fanget i mikrogjeld (Caught in Microdebt). It showed women in Bangladesh saying they had lost a home or contemplated suicide because of microcredit; revealed an old dispute between the Grameen Bank and Norway over the use of aid funds; and charged Grameen with charging borrowers 30% interest.