Pennies from heaven
Giving money directly to poor people works surprisingly well. But it cannot deal with the deeper causes of poverty
And the cashonistas rejoice
Chris Blattman blog
What happens when $1000 of manna falls onto your mobile phone? The GiveDirectly study of unconditional cash to poor farmers in Kenya is out.
How No-Strings Aid Affects the Poor
GiveDirectly is an unusual charity. Donors give money. GiveDirectly, well, gives it directly to the poor. It does not tell them how to spend it or when to spend it. And it does not give money to a specific group, like mothers or farmers or the elderly.
A Tale of Two Cyclones
In October 1999, a massive cyclone slammed into the eastern coast of India, killing at least 10,000 people. A few weeks ago, a very similar cyclone, Phailin, struck the same region. The news coverage ahead of Phailin painted a frightening picture of a storm the size of Hurricane Katrina poised to wreak havoc on India and potentially repeat the grim toll of the 1999 storm. Yet when all was said and done, Phailin resulted in around 50 fatalities -- just a fraction of what was feared.
India ‘Special Case’ in Natural Disasters
India is likely to have the highest number of people living in poverty by 2030 and among the greatest exposure to extreme weather and natural disasters, but it is rare among developing nations facing climate hazards, because its national government has the capacity to manage disaster risk, according to a report published this week.
Fighting Poverty, and Critics
NYT, book review
Nina Munk’s new book, “The Idealist,” is about the well-known economist Jeffrey Sachs and his “quest to end poverty,” as the subtitle puts it. I know: That subtitle sounds like classic book-industry hyperbole, but, in this case, it’s not. That really is what Sachs has been trying to do. The question of whether or not he is succeeding is where things get tricky.
Should we ditch cash for good?
In Stockholm, the homeless now accept credit cards, Bloomberg News reports. Sweden’s high-tech economy has made bills and coins almost obsolete, so equipping the destitute with card readers -- a world first, apparently -- was a natural evolution.
The Trouble With Microfinance
A nice little piece of publicity has accompanied the launch of Microbanker.com, the latest internet-based peer-to-peer credit agency, following in the footsteps of Kiva and other groups. It has produced a YouTube video, which has of course gone viral, of Ugandan women entrepreneurs singing (miming?) to the Jessie J song Price Tag.
Haves And Have-Nots
NPR + TED
Income inequality is at an all-time high between the haves and the have-nots. But does the poverty gap have to be so wide, and can it potentially be eliminated altogether? In this hour, TED speakers share some big ideas about inequality and new ways we might achieve prosperity for all.
Why Afghans May Vote for a Pencil or Bulldozer
In a country where fewer than half of voters are literate, ballots for an upcoming election take on a more pictorial form.
Reasons to Talk to North Korea
We believe that the current impasse, which only buys time for North Korea to develop its nuclear program, is unstable and that matters will only get worse if not addressed directly. It’s time for the Obama administration to reopen dialogue with Pyongyang.
A Reason for Hope in Congo’s Perpetual War
Rocket after rocket ripped across the sky. By Saturday evening, after two straight days of pitched battle with artillery, tanks and mortars, the Congolese Army had driven the M23 rebels out of the strategic town of Kibumba.
Charity Watchdog Shakes Up Ratings To Focus On Results
There's one area of the economy that's growing faster than business or government. According to the Urban Institute, in the 10 years between 2001 and 2011, the number of nonprofits increased 25 percent. But most of them aren't very good at measuring their effectiveness — at least, that's the conclusion of the nonprofit watchdog Charity Navigator, which rates thousands of nonprofits to help donors make decisions on their giving.
Can you make money and feel good about it?
Want to make money while helping the people around you? Impact investing may have the answer.
Buffett Family Puts Money Where Their Mouth Is: Food Security
NPR, book interview
Oh, what a job. You've got $3 billion to address society's most intractable problems. So what do you do? If you're philanthropist Howard G. Buffett, son of famed investor Warren Buffett, you set a deadline: 40 years.
A Billion Women Are About to Transform the Global Economy
Janet Yellen, Christine Lagarde and a handful of U.S. senators notwithstanding, women are still underrepresented in the world of finance. More men should soon be clamoring to break into this Old Girls’ Network. Women’s empowerment looks to be one of the transformative economic trends of the 21st century.