Growth theory and microfinance

In: Uncategorized

24 May 2009

Carl Schramm provides a useful review of growth theory in an article for Real Clear Markets. He takes in key mainstream thinkers on economic growth and development including Paul Collier, William Easterly, Deepak Lal, Dani Rodrik, Walt Rostow, Jeffrey Sachs, Robert Solow and Mohammad Yunus.

Two points stood out for me. First, the difficulty mainstream economic theory has in explaining economic growth:

“Harvard economist Elhanan Helpman published an entire book exploring the “mystery” of economic growth only a few years ago, and even Robert Solow, who won the Nobel Prize for his pioneering growth theory, today says there are more questions than answers as to the causes of growth. This failure to understand the sources of America’s own economic performance, let alone the world’s, will be a serious handicap as we try to figure out how to renew prosperity in the face of a dramatic global slowdown.”

Second, the anti-growth sentiment at the root of microfinance:

“Muhammad Yunus, a Ph.D. in economics who won the Nobel Peace Prize, disregards all such evidence in Creating A World Without Poverty (2008). Having created Grameen Bank, an institution that increased remarkably the welfare of millions of the world’s poorest in Bangladesh through the innovation of micro-credit, he appeals for a new world economic order that does not contemplate growth. “The bigger the world economy, the bigger the threat to planet Earth.” For global welfare to increase, he argues, capitalism will have to be reformed through “social businesses”—entities that put people above profits.”

Comment Form