Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity


CGD's weekly Podcast, event videos, whiteboard talks, slides, and more.

Video | Cash Transfers Conference

Cash transfer programs have shown mostly consistent success at improving conditions that matter for development; smoothing consumption, increasing school attendance and health care, sometimes impro

Grameen Bank Heist and Burma Debt – David Roodman

David Roodman

Our Wonkcast this week covers two separate topics and two international figures recently in the news. First, Muhammad Yunus is considered the father of microfinance as the founder of Grameen Bank. Why then has he been removed from his post? What does it mean for the future of Grameen? Following up, we discuss another Nobel peace prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, and the future of Burmese debt.

IMF to the Rescue on Climate and Sustainable Development? — David Roodman and Michele de Nevers

Christine Lagarde
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde startled IFI watchers last week by warning at a CGD-hosted speech that the world faces “a triple crisis—an economic crisis, an environmental crisis and, increasing, a social crisis.”

Lagarde’s remarks, which I report on at greater length here, would not have been newsworthy coming from the head of an international environmental NGO or even the head of the World Bank, but from the head of the IMF, a citadel of economic orthodoxy, they surprised and delighted many in the development community, especially those alarmed by the looming development impacts of runaway climate change.

Development Drums Episode 31: David Roodman on Microfinance

Center for Global Development Senior Fellow David Roodman talks about his latest book‘Due Diligence, An Impertinent Inquiry into Microfinance’.

David discusses the evidence surrounding the effects of microfinance on the lives of the world’s poor and its implications on aid donors, within the context of his book’s key findings. David then goes on to speak about what he himself has learned about the roles of different kinds of evidence, along with the unusual way in which he used open blogs to guide and inform the writing of his book.

Due Diligence: An Impertinent Inquiry into Microfinance (Event Video)

David Roodman

Microfinance has been whiplashed by the hype cycle. Where it once was seen as a powerful treatment for poverty, recent headlines have favored phrases such as “borrower revolt,” “doesn’t work after all,” and “suicide.” What to make of this cacophony? David Roodman seeks the sensible truth in his new book, Due Diligence: An Impertinent Inquiry into Microfinance, with an investigation that is unprecedented in its depth and breadth. He concludes that, while financial services are no more likely to lift people out of poverty than clean water and electricity, the microfinance movement has built thriving industries that deliver valuable services to millions of poor people. The challenge going forward is to help microfinance play to its strengths. In general, that calls for putting less money into microcredit, to avoid credit bubbles and increase the incentive for microfinance institutions to take savings deposits.


David Roodman - Due Diligence: An Impertinent Inquiry into Microfinance

David Roodman My guest on this week’s Wonkcast is David Roodman, senior fellow and author of the long-awaited book, Due Diligence: An Impertinent Inquiry into Microfinance. After more than three years of unprecedented investigation into the movement, David was able to cut through the hype and come to understand the capabilities and limitations of microfinance in ending poverty.

David explains that while the microfinance movement has built thriving industries that deliver valuable services to millions of poor people, he hopes his book will help the industry shift away from its traditional emphasis on credit to other services focused on savings, insurance, and new technology.

Ranking the Rich

Johnny West

In this two-minute 2006 video clip, CGD’s David Roodman explains the purpose and approach of the Commitment to Development Index, which ranks how well rich countries support development across seven different policy areas. Moises Naim, then editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy Magazine; and Evelyn Herfkens, then executive coordinator of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Campaign, discuss the impact of the CDI. Naim says that the index has encouraged debate and policy changes throughout the world which otherwise would not have taken place. Watch the movie, then learn more about the CDI.

Ranking the Rich in the 2011 Commitment to Development Index: David Roodman

How well did the 22 rich countries that belong to the OECD Development Committee (OECD-DAC) perform in terms of supporting development in 2011? In this week’s Wonkcast, my guest David Roodman, architect of the Commitment to Development Index (CDI), explains some surprising results of the newly released 2011 CDI. While the United States climbed the charts due to a controversial increase in internationally mandated military intervention in Afghanistan, other countries such as Spain and Ireland fell in the rankings because of slower immigration from developing countries.

I also ask David about CGD’s new research data disclosure policy, and its potential to help him improve the Index. As a result of this policy, which David initiated, and the World Bank’s decision to offer free access to its World Development Indicators, full CDI data and “do files” are now available on-line. David encourages students and researchers to poke at it—he is modestly confident that somebody will find some bugs. To read full show summary of the Wonkcast go to

Mohammed Yunus Forced Out –Whither Microcredit? David Roodman

Mohammed Yunus has been forced by a Bangladesh court to step down as the head of the Grameen Bank, leaving the world to wonder what will become of the institution that helped inspire the microfinance revolution. On this week’s Wonkcast, we consider the rise and uncertain future of microcredit, not so long ago the darling of development experts and activists alike, and discuss whether or not the arc of Yunus’s remarkable life serves as an apt metaphor for the microfinance movement.

My guest is CGD senior fellow David Roodman, who has been tracking the Yunus trial since it began as part of his Microfinance Open Book Blog. The book in public on the blog, Due Diligence: An Impertinent Inquiry into Microfinance, is nearing completion and will be published before the end of the year.

The Global Implications of India's Microcredit Crisis (Event Video)

The largest crisis in the history of microfinance is now unfolding in India. After five years of growth so fast it has been described as “indescribable,” and after a lucrative initial public offering (IPO) by the leading firm, the government of the state of Andhra Pradesh has cracked down. Amid reports of microcredit-linked suicides, the state has urged borrowers to stop repaying, and millions have heeded the call. Bankruptcies of some of the world’s largest microcreditors are now a realistic possibility.

What is the reality of microcredit in India? Is the backlash an engineered campaign to protect a government-run (and World Bank–financed) finance program from private-sector competition? Or has the fast growth in credit ensnared the poor in debt? Some of each?

And what lessons does the crisis hold for actors worldwide, including microfinance institutions and investors ranging from the World Bank to Kiva users? When is microcredit—and investment in it—too much of a good thing?

Unpacking India’s Microfinance Meltdown: David Roodman

David RoodmanA crisis is unfolding in India's microcredit sector that-- beyond its immediate effects on borrowers and lenders-- will greatly affect the future of financial services for the poor. I'm joined by David Roodman, senior fellow here at the Center for Global Development and author of the forthcoming book Due Diligence: A Guide to Microfinance (which he has shared step by step on his Open Book Blog). David recently traveled to Andhra Pradesh, the epicenter of the crisis. On the Wonkcast, he leads me through the story of the explosive growth of Indian microcredit-- and its sudden fall from grace.

David Roodman on Microfinance and a Year of Blogging

David RoodmanMy guest on this week’s show is David Roodman, a research fellow here at CGD who has spent the past year writing a book on microfinance. He has shared this experience online through his open book blog, posting chapter drafts, analyzing ongoing research in the field, and soliciting comments and suggestions. I ask David why he decided to write his book in such a public way, and what he’s learned over the last year.

David replies that when it comes to policy research, people write books for four reasons. “One is to help you think through a complicated process… Another is to provide a basis for shorter spin-off pieces… Another is to signal that you’re an expert about something. And then the last is, oh yeah, to write something for people to read.” David says blogging about the book-writing process has helped him to partially accomplish the first three goals even before the book is complete. It has also, somewhat unexpectedly he says, changed his writing style, something he discussed recently on the blog.

2009 Commitment to Development Index Webinar (slidecast)

In 2008, the United States finished 17th in the Index. Did it do any better in 2009? How did the other wealthy countries fare? To find out, and to understand the data behind the rankings, watch the Webinar that took place on Oct. 20.  The Webinar includes an overview of the Index and the 2009 results from CGD research fellow David Roodman. CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet, a former deputy assistant secretary of Treasury for Africa, the Middle East and Asia, will discuss the implications of the Index results for the ongoing debate over reforming U.S. development policy.