Brokerage, Development and the ‘New Bihar’: Reflections from the field

By Shahid Perwez

‘Development’ in Bihar is a new phenomenon. Since 2005, it has had the fastest economic growth rate in India and is applauded for a dramatic turnaround of its poor governance. In November 2005, Nitish Kumar took over as Chief Minister promising to leave no stone unturned in making ‘good governance’ a reality. The state he took over was marred by a sluggish economy, severe malnutrition and an unusually high maternal and infant mortality rate, inaccessible hospitals due to lack of functional roads, massive unemployment leading to outmigration of youths, and unusually high crime rate Continue reading

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Kenyan mobile money and the hype of messy statistics

By Susan Johnson

The hype around the success of mobile money in Kenya has been growing as mobile payments develop both there and worldwide. This week’s Economist cites a figure that 43% of Kenyan GDP is being channelled through M-Pesa each year, attributing the statistic to Safaricom itself. The figure has been rising from 31% last year, which was cited by both The Economist and the Financial Times. In August 2013, GSM Association released an infographic on “The Kenyan Journey to Digital Financial Inclusion”, which also used the 31% figure. The World Bank, CGAP, AFI and others have also used or cited such measures of progress in this field. Continue reading

The neoliberal harvest: Routine economic fraud in the Global North

By Jörg Wiegratz

Are you tired of yet another revelation of fraud in the food industry or the banks? Are you paying less attention to those stories? Are you getting numb, thinking more and more ‘that’s just how the system works’? If so, congratulations! You’re learning to lower your expectations to meet the new normal: pervasive, institutional economic fraud. This used to be the sort of thing you read about in income-poor countries in Africa and South America. Continue reading