Latin America is richly endowed with natural resources, fertile land, and vibrant cultures. Yet the region remains much poorer than its neighbors to the north. Most Latin American countries have not achieved standards of living and stable institutions comparable to those found in developed countries, have experienced repeated boom-bust cycles, and remain heavily reliant on primary commodities.
This book studies the historical roots of Latin America's contemporary economic and social development, focusing on poverty and income inequality dating back to colonial times. It addresses today's legacies of the market-friendly reforms that took hold in the 1980s and 1990s by examining successful stabilizations and homemade monetary and fiscal institutional reforms. It offers a detailed analysis of trade and financial liberalization, twenty–first century-growth, and the decline in poverty and income inequality. Finally, the book offers an overall analysis of inclusive growth policies for development—including gender issues and the informal sector—and the challenges that lie ahead for the region, with special attention to pressing demands by the vibrant and vocal middle class, youth unemployment, and indigenous populations.
The microfinance revolution has allowed more than 150 million poor people around the world to receive small loans without collateral, build up assets, and buy insurance. The idea that providing access to reliable and affordable financial services can have powerful economic and social effects has captured the imagination of policymakers, activists, bankers, and researchers around the world; the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize went to microfinance pioneer Muhammed Yunis and Grameen Bank of Bangladesh. This book offers an accessible and engaging analysis of the global expansion of financial markets in poor communities. It introduces readers to the key ideas driving microfinance, integrating theory with empirical data and addressing a range of issues, including savings and insurance, the role of women, impact measurement, and management incentives. This second edition has been updated throughout to reflect the latest data. A new chapter on commercialization describes the rapid growth in investment in microfinance institutions and the tensions inherent in the efforts to meet both social and financial objectives. The chapters on credit contracts, savings and insurance, and gender have been expanded substantially; a new section in the chapter on impact measurement describes the growing importance of randomized controlled trials; and the chapter on managing microfinance offers a new perspective on governance issues in transforming institutions. Appendixes and problem sets cover technical material.