Blockchain for Development: A Handy Bluffers’ Guide

May 9, 2017
Top tip: if you’re in a meeting discussing anything to do with finance, at some point look wise and say ‘you do realize, blockchain is likely to change everything.’ Of course, there is always a terrifying chance that someone will ask what you actually mean. Worry not, because IDS has produced a handy bluffer’s guide to help you respond. Blockchain

Can development really be delivered by investing in private banks?

April 11, 2014
Peter Chowla of the Bretton Woods Project introduces its new report, which asks why the World Bank is still stuck in pre-crisis thinking about finance and what civil society should do about it. ‘Banksters’ have become famous since the financial crisis just five years ago. Media portrayals of New York’s ‘Wall Street’ or the ‘City’ in London have frequently vilified

Development Impact Bonds and Impact Investing – genuine Impact, or snake oil?

August 2, 2013
The private finance people in development baffle me. They speak a different language; great swirling clouds of jargon, the fuzziest of fuzzwords, all laced with a level of macho market can-do talk that makes me deeply suspicious. Baffled but sceptical – not a good place to be. And there’s a lot going on at the moment – new ideas, a

From pinstripes to poverty: a refugee banker’s first 100 days at Oxfam

January 25, 2013
Oxfam is always keen to employ unusual suspects, none more so than Will Martindale, a banker turned “do gooder” (right, and no, that isn’t his Oxfam desk). Here he reflects on his first 100 days working among the (supposed) angels. Banking. Most hate it. Few understand it. And I miss it. I miss the pace, the energy, and the super smart

What does Bill Gates' leaked report say about aid, tax and development?

September 29, 2011

Why do we know so little about how poor people 'do' development?

July 20, 2011

Ending the Doomsday Cycle of global finance

March 4, 2010
‘Each time the system runs into problems, the Federal Reserve quickly lowers interest rates to revive it. These crises appear to be getting worse and worse.’ So begins a sobering analysis by Peter Boone and Simon Johnson in the CentrePiece, the journal of the LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance. The argument is contained in the two graphics. First the  historical

Between microfinance and big bank lending there is…. a Missing Middle

December 18, 2009
Credit is the lifeblood of farming – you need cash to plant seeds, buy fertiliser and stay alive long long enough to reap and sell your harvest and pay off your loan. But you can’t always get it when you need it. A new Oxfam research paper identifies one of the main market failures resulting from the retreat of the

Portfolios of the Poor – a great new book

October 13, 2009
Portfolios of the Poor gave me the same feeling of excitement as the World Bank’s epic ‘Voices of the Poor’ study. Both of them are the fruit of intense scrutiny of the real lives of poor people that uncovers insights and destroys stereotypes. Poor people are most definitely not financial illiterates, but often sophisticated managers of complex financial portfolios that

The UN lays into finance, speculation and the IMF: UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Report 2009

September 17, 2009
Another day, another UN report, this time the Trade and Development Report 2009, from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), released last week. It’s surprisingly forthright. Set up in 1964, in the table-thumping days of the New International Economic Order, in recent years UNCTAD had become markedly more cautious, not least under its current secretary general, the distinctly un-fiery

How will the meltdown affect development?

December 29, 2008

Meltdown Miscellany: stats and soundbites on the development impact

December 17, 2008