This course is designed to give students a rigorous, research, policy and practice-based understanding of topics including: measurement and the underlying drivers of poverty; informal credit markets — and their interest rates and default rates — in areas such as Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (ROSCA), payday loans, and more established markets in consumer credit; the role of microfinance (loans, savings and insurance) in delivering financial services to the poor, and how access to capital markets by way of debt issues, initial public offers, and collateralized debt obligations have changed the landscape of microfinance; and innovations by corporations and governments in extending markets in healthcare, marketing and distribution of goods produced by the poor.
The course will address and evaluate the following questions:
- What are the challenges in measuring poverty?
- How pervasive is poverty and what are the underlying drivers of poverty?
- Has economic growth in developing countries (such as Brazil, China and India) helped to alleviate poverty?
- What are informal credit markets? Who participates in them? What are the interest rates and default rates in these markets?
- What are the challenges to the flow of credit to the poor borrowers? How can they be surmounted?
- What is the role of microfinance in delivering financial services to the Poor? How successful has been this effort? What are the challenges?
- What are some of the recent capital market innovations in the markets for the Poor? Can they help to scale up and bring down interest rates?
- What are some of the innovations introduced by corporations and governments in this field?