CFSP in the News

September 8, 2011
BusinessWeek Cites CFSP Suri's Research

Bloomberg Businessweek

Brendan Greeley and Eric Ombok recently highlighted research completed by CFSP member Tavneet Suri of MIT and co-author William Jack of Georgetown.  The article explores the growing use of M-PESA, the mobile banking system of Kenya, and how its advent is affecting savings among Kenyans.  The article also discusses how this growing usage influences the formal banking system and raises questions of whether or not to regulate these funds.

Photo by Alissa Everett courtesy of Bloomberg Businessweek

Recent CFSP in the News

  • May 4, 2011

    On Point: NPR (WBUR)

    NPR's Tom Ashbrook recently hosted CFSP member Abhijit Banerjee and his co-author, economist Esther Duflo, in a discussion about the recent release of their new book Poor Economics.  Banerjee and Duflo spoke about the ongoing and future relationship between population growth and poverty growth.  Both authors stressed that aid effort has been "shooting blind" and could benefit from rigorous evaluation, with the same fervor adopted in business ventures.  Failure to do so, might perpetuate what Duflo deemed "unacceptable" rates of poverty, a problem which she calls the "responsibility of humankind."

    Photo courtesy OnPoint: NPR (WBUR)

  • May 1, 2011

    Foreign Policy

    CFSP member Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, coauthor of Poor Economics, recently wrote a column for "Foreign Policy" exploring the idea of a nutrition-based poverty trap and examining purchasing choices of poor households.  Both authors also challenge all-encompassing solutions and their disconnect with evidence: "All too many of them [experts] still promote sweeping, ideological solutions to problems that defy one-size-fits-all answers, arguing over foreign aid, for example, while the facts on the ground bear little resemblance to the fierce policy battles they wage."

  • April 30, 2011

    Wall Street Journal

    William Easterly, professor of economics at New York University, recently reviewed the release of Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, by CFSP member Abhijit Banerjee and  Esther Duflo.  Easterly highlighted the book's remarkable treatment of exposing what makes aid effective, noting the considerable lack of follow up to evaluate the effect of aid.  Easterly praises the book, noting Banerjee and Duflo's care in examining the lives of their subjects.  "I would give an edge to Mr. Banerjee and Ms. Duflo in this area—the sheer detail and warm sympathy on display reflects a true appreciation of the challenges their subjects face," writes Easterly. 

  • April 27, 2011

    Development Impact Blog (World Bank)

    David McKenzie recently reviewed the latest publication by CFSP member, Abhijit Banerjee, on the Development Impact blog.  In his review, McKenzie offered praise for Banerjee and his coauthor, Esther Duflo, for integrating the latest and even unpublished research concerning development economics as well as highlighting micro evidence.  McKenzie also includes anecdotes about a class he took at Yale with CFSP member Christopher Udry and research he carried out in Mexico and Sri Lanka was CFSP member Christopher Woodruff.  McKenzie calls Poor Economics a "fascinating" read and deems their arguments "compelling."

  • April 26, 2011

    Philanthropy Action

    Laura Starita, of Philanthropy Action, reviewed Poor Economics, by CFSP member Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo.  In her review, Starita explained that Banerjee and Duflo make a strong attempt at dispelling the idea that big problems, like global poverty, simply need "Big Ideas."  The approach of Banerjee and Duflo, she argues, takes great care to examine the multifaceted and interwoven perpetuation of poverty, even challenging the idea that poverty traps are an all-encompassing explanation.  Starita describes their holistic approach saying, "They are peeling the onion, not hacking it to pieces. Such meticulousness brings them to the eventual conclusion that framing the challenges of development through Big Ideas [...] generate Big Solutions that are cumbersome, expensive, top-down, and ultimately fail to consider the one critical success factor for any development initiative: the people."

  • March 14, 2011
    Russ Roberts in Conversation with Rob Townsend - Podcast


    CFSP Faculty Director and Principal Investigator, Robert M. Townsend, sat down with Ross Roberts, host of EconTalk, to discuss global development, particularly the role of formal and informal financial institutions.

    Townsend offered thoughts on a wide range of topics concerning both Thailand and the United States.  Townsend stressed the importance of extensive panel data, such as that developed through his research in Thailand.  He feels the presence of such data would only improve policy decisions, saying: "I really think many countries would be much better off if they not only had these kinds of data but also had the frameworks so they could interpret them and base policy on the conclusions of the analysis . . . My heartfelt agenda is to have enough data and enough frameworks to be able to assess the flow of funds and rates of return and call a spade a spade, institution by institution." <Read the transcript and download the podcast.>

  • February 25, 2011

    Technology Review, MIT


    The ever-expanding presence of mobile banking in developing countries is a research topic for CFSP member, Tavneet Suri.  Here, Suri shares her thoughts on the introduction of mobile banking in Afghanistan, commenting on factors that contributed to its widespread use in her area of interest, Kenya.  "I think a lot of their success has been in placing their agent network up and running," Suri says. "And it can't be just in the city. [The agents] have to be everywhere."

  • February 1, 2011

    New York Times Freakonomics

    The popular New York Times blog Freakonomics highlighted the research of CFSP member Tavneet Suri of MIT and her colleague Billy Jack of Georgetown University. Suri and Jack have been studying M-PESA, the mobile banking giant in Kenya. The blog post notes some of their key findings. <Read more...>


    Image by Christine Daniloff/MIT News

  • February 1, 2011

    Blog: Chris Blattman

    Chris Blattman, Assistant Professor of Politcal Science and Economics at Yale, noted in his blog that the new paper by CFSP member Tavneet Suri and her colleague Billy Jack of Georgetown University tells “us many interesting M-PESA facts.” 

  • January 10, 2011

    MIT News

    Robert M. Townsend's discoveries about how poor people escape poverty in Thailand was recently highlighted by MIT News.  "It's not the average wisdom of household members pulled together," says Townsend, in the article written by Peter Dizikes. Rather, he notes, "It's suggestive that it is the ability or talent of one individual" that can change a family's entire economic trajectory. <Read more. . . >