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5 comments to “Life, liberty and access to credit”

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  1. Therese - 25/06/2010 Reply

    This is an interesting perspective. Perhaps it is not so important to rank rights or to classify them. A right to financial literacy (indeed, all literacy) would not be mutually exclusive with any other human or civil right. Messrs. Bryant, Hannam, and Yunus seem to agree that financial literacy is important to achieving human equality and opportunity. The most difficult question seems to be, as the author says, “[W]ho is responsible for meeting the obligations that the exercise of this right will incur?”.

  2. Jo - 26/06/2010 Reply

    Books such as Portfolios of the Poor: How the World’s Poor Live on $2 a Day by Daryl Collins, Jonathan Morduch, Stuart Rutherford, and Orlanda Ruthven show how microfinance is already part of the everyday life of many people in poor communities. It also argues that the people studied already show considerable sophistication in managing their financial affairs, maintaining many streams of lending and borrowing, and doing such things as borrowing at high rates of interest even when lower rates are available, to provide themselves with an incentive to make paying back a priority. On the whole reading this book leaves the impression that the main thing very poor people lack is not access to financial institutions but a decent regular income.

  3. Kaye LaPointe - 27/06/2010 Reply

    Financial savvy is not an exclusive attribute that only the wealthy possess!! In fact, look at the wealthy individuals that have squandered millions with the likes of Bernie Madoff and Ken Starr….by not being in control of their own funds and having knowledge of how their money was being used.

    Let’s not “tax” the system more by putting this responsibility on the educational system or the government. In fact, the banking industry is already addressing this issue…..walk into any large U.S. banking institution (like Wells Fargo for instance) and you will see a myriad of products for young adults, teens and children. The private sector is way ahead on this issue, check it out on the internet or your local banking institution. Better yet, what responsibility do parents have in teaching children about finances……a lot, regardless of what society you grow up in or how much income you have.

  4. Harvey Jackson - 27/06/2010 Reply

    I’m inclined to think that the availability of micro-credit might be pretty darn close to a human right if you truly believe that small business is the economic engine of a successful economy. I’d be highly reluctant for government to be fully guaranteeing all such loans, however beyond that, I think anything else a government can do to reasonably facilitate the making of such loans (perhaps a partial interest matching subsidy?) ought to be considered part of building the financial infrastructure of a nation.

    • Harvey Jackson - 28/06/2010 Reply

      After my previous comment I ran this past a liberal friend who was even more skeptical about declaring a “human right” here as I was hedging a bit against myself. I do however think there are prudent angles for a government to consider. Yes being in endless debt sucks and taking on too much lending risk sucks to, and I don’t really think we should completely eliminate such considerations for market participants. We don’t need another sub-prime mortgage debacle in this (US) or any other country. Lenders and borrowers still need to otherwise assess their risks responsibly. So I’m not in favor of any “government takeover” (eg Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac) of that kind in the name of human rights – however I’m still open to considering government facilitation as part of a plan for economic development, growth, and infrastructure as long as it doesn’t pose serious fiscal risks to a nation’s budget and economy. Is there a way to do that?

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