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The Most Important 2009 Microfinance Post You Didn't Read

I tend toward curmudgeonry, as you might have noticed. And I don't spare new technologies of my skepticism even though I am a natural computer programmer. (Really, what was so bad about punch cards?) I don't have a smart phone, but am pleased with two features of my dumb phone: It can receive calls. And it can make them too.

Kristof Calls for Microsavings Revolution

Nicholas Kristof's column today is about the promise of microsavings. He starts by describing what must be a Village Savings & Loan Association (VLSA), operated by Catholic Relief Services in Nicaragua:

“We used to buy a three-liter bottle of Coke every day,” recalled Socorro Machado, a 49-year-old homemaker in a village here in northwestern Nicaragua. That was a bit less than a gallon, and the cost of $1.75 consumed a large share of the family’s budget.

Arvind Subramanian: The Triumph of Economics

This blog post was originally published in the Business Standard.

The Greatest Depression that could so easily have happened in 2009 but did not is the tribute that the world owes to economics.

In 2008, as the global financial crisis unfolded, the reputation of economics as a discipline and economists as useful policy practitioners seemed to be irredeemably sunk. Queen Elizabeth captured the mood when she asked pointedly why no one (in particular economists) had spotted the crisis coming. And there is no doubt that, notwithstanding the few Cassandras who had correctly prophesied gloom and doom, the profession had failed colossally.

A Public Health Time Bomb

There’s a lot of attention being paid to the counterfeit drug trade at the moment. Former President of France, Jacques Chirac, recently chaired a meeting with West African leaders to discuss how to crack down on counterfeiting. Meanwhile, the Wellcome Trust and the American Pharmaceutical Group held an Opinion Formers' conference on counterfeit medicines (presentations here); the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations produced a brief on the issue; and Roger Bate has continued to draw attention to counterfeits and other drug quality issues in developing countries, including through his book Making a Killing. And this is all on top of the WHO-hosted IMPACT initiative on counterfeits, which started in 2006.

Godot Actually Made It To Copenhagen … and Nothing Happened. Now What?

In the wake of the shambles at Copenhagen, we could do worse than contemplate Vladimir and Estragon in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. The two characters converse endlessly and anxiously, while they wait for the mysterious Godot to arrive and secure their enlightenment. But Godot never shows up, even though he keeps sending word that he will.

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