CFSP in the News

October 14, 2013

The Economist

This article explores planned large-scale infrastructure -- including high speed rail -- and stimulus spending in Thailand.  Opponents of the program have called for fiscal prudence and have questioned the amount of public debt it would require.  CFSP Faculty Director and MIT Professor Robert M. Townsend points out, however, that average debt-to-asset ratios are low and have been decreasing since 2006, a fact which suggests that concerns about spending are overstated.

Recent CFSP in the News

  • March 16, 2011


    CFSP member Tavneet Suri, along with fellow economist William Jack, discussed the recent growth of mobile banking around the world and in Kenya in particular in their column for Vox. Suri, as well as Jack, have written numerous papers and working papers about mobile banking in developing countries.

  • 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. . . >

  • January 1, 2011
    CFSP’s Woodruff Weighs in on Developing Countries’ Role in the Economic Crisis

    Bulletin of the Economics Research Institute

    The University of Warwick, UK

    CFSP member, Christopher Woodruff, recently contributed to the Bulletin of the Economics Research Institute, published by The University of Warwick in the United Kingdom.  In his article, Woodruff, who specializes in development economics, discusses the impact of the economic crisis on “up-and-comer” countries, such as China and India.  Because developing countries have largely avoided banking and currency crises, they will likely show higher GDP growth rates than the United States and the EU.  For this reason, Woodruff explains that the phrase “global crisis” is somewhat of a misnomer.

  • December 17, 2010


    Robert M. Townsend, CFSP Principal Investigator and Faculty Director, recently spoke with Stephen Yeo of CEPR via VOX Talks, a series of audio interviews with leading economists around the world.  The interview focused on Townsend's recent publication Households as Corporate Firms, which proposes thinking about households as smaller firms, as opposed to only considering larger firms, and using data on household production, for instance, in a given country's economic analysis.  Please click to hear the audio interview.

  • December 10, 2010


    Robert M. Townsend, CFSP Principal Investigator and Faculty Director, spoke with Steven Yeo of CEPR via Europe's VOX Talks, a series of audio interviews with leading economists around the world.  During the interview, Townsend highlighted a variety of interest areas generated from his extensive survey data research in Thailand, including risk sharing, networks, rate of saving, and return on assets in villages as small, open economies.  Please click to listen or read transcript.

  • December 8, 2010
    New Data Shows M-PESA's Reach Is Spreading Down Market While Service and Customer Satisfaction Are at All Time Highs.

    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Program Officer, Jake Kendall, in a recent blog post on, discussed the success of mobile money products in the hands of poor, unbanked Kenyans.  Having access to M-PESA has allowed Kenyans to effectively face negative income shocks, such as job loss and livestock death, while maintaining high customer satisfaction ratings. In his post, Kendall highlights the work of CFSP member Tavneet Suri of MIT whose collaborative research in Kenya provides valuable insight into the use of M-PESA.  CFSP is supported by a grant to the University of Chicago from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.