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A Banking System Is More Than a Bunch of Banks

For so long I was focused on the important but narrow question of what microfinance does to human beings. It was a good question to probe because a lot of people are interested in it, and various researchers and practitioners have contended over the answer.

Webcast of CGD Andhra Pradesh Event

CGD plans to webcast tomorrow's panel discussion of the microcredit crisis in Andhra Pradesh featuring me, Stephen Rasmussen, Elisabeth Rhyne, Swaminathan Aiyar, and Liliana Rojas-Suarez. The process will involve bits of technology that are new for us, so it will be slightly experimental. Take it as "beta." At any rate, I'll post a link to the permanent video record once I have it.

I am really looking forward to this event because of the fantastic depth of expertise we recruited for the panel.

Event: The Global Implications of India’s Microcredit Crisis

An event this Thursday for those of you in Washington, DC....

Update: A video record of the event is here.

The Center for Global Development presents

The Global Implications of India’s Microcredit Crisis

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2:00 – 3:30 P.M.

The largest crisis in the history of microfinance is now unfolding in India. After five years of growth so fast it has been described as “indescribable,” and after a lucrative initial public offering (IPO) by the leading firm, the government of the state of Andhra Pradesh has cracked down. Amid reports of microcredit-linked suicides, the state has urged borrowers to stop repaying, and millions have heeded the call. Bankruptcies of some of the world’s largest microcreditors are now a realistic possibility.

What is the reality of microcredit in India? Is the backlash an engineered campaign to protect a government-run (and World Bank–financed) program from private-sector competition? Or has the fast growth in credit ensnared the poor in debt? Some of each?

And what lessons does the crisis hold for actors worldwide, including microfinance institutions and investors ranging from the World Bank to Kiva users? When is microcredit—and investment in it—too much of a good thing?

Can You Legislate Moderation?

Folks, this is an important post for the book-writing. Can you help me think this through?

Years ago an editor of mine observed that most writing blocks are caused by tangled thoughts. People think they're just having trouble figuring out how to say what they're thinking when in fact the problem is in their confused thinking.

In chapter 9 right now I'm trying to... Well, what I mean is... See, the thing with microcredit...

Meeting of the Minds? Researchers, Microfinance Leaders at CGD

On Friday afternoon, the Center for Global Development and ACCION International's Center for Financial Inclusion convened a "roundtable" meeting of U.S.-based microfinance leaders and researchers to talk about the interactions between their two professional domains. What does the latest research tell us or not tell us about how microfinance works? What can can each group do to improve how it communicates about impacts? How can each best support the work of the other?