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Randomized-control trials and the pillars of microcredit December 10, 2008

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Via the FT, a great exposition on how little we know about whether (and how) microfinance works to improve the lives of the poor. It includes a rundown of some excellent randomized-control evaluations of microcredit, sequentially taking down supposed “pillars” of microfinance as not necessarily so crucial.

It’s centered on the work of Dean Karlan at Yale, one of the Innovations for Poverty Action folks. And while randomized-control trials aren’t any sort of panacea, I’m glad to see that they’re getting more play and significance in the mainstream press…especially since Berkeley’s firing up it’s rando with CEGA.

US nationalizes AIG… September 18, 2008

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It strikes me that the financial crisis in the US right now is not unlike debt-crises that have previously occurred around the world. No structural adjustment, of course, will ever be demanded of the US, but I wonder what central bankers and finance ministers in other parts of the world must be feeling right now. The NYTimes has some reactions.

The US has reached a point of determining that some things are “too big to fail.” In essence, that’s socializing risk for big companies; for what it’s worth, the bailout of AIG is nationalization. (more…)