Likezo Nasilele and her husband, Chipopa Lyoni, with one of their four children in the courtyard of their home in rural Zambia. They were one of hundreds of families who received regular cash payouts as part of a government experiment.

A major study in Zambia showed the benefits of just giving poor people money with no strings attached. So why isn’t the government entirely convinced?

(Image credit: Nurith Aizenman/NPR)

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TEN years ago, BNP Paribas, a French bank, temporarily suspended dealings in three funds, citing “the complete evaporation of liquidity in certain market segments of the US securitisation market”. Many people treat this as the start of the credit crunch but one can trace it back to the need for Bear Stearns to rescue hedge funds that invested in mortgage-backed securities in June, or the signs of home loan defaults and failing mortgage lenders that emerged in late 2006. The subsequent tightening of credit and loss of confidence in the banking system eventually led to the collapse of Lehman Brothers, when the crisis reached its height in the autumn of 2008 (see picture).The inevitable question on the occasion of such anniversaries is: could it happen again? Total debt has risen, rather than fallen, over the last decade, reaching $217trn or 327% of GDP, according to the Institute for International Finance. But the debt is differently distributed from 2007; more of it is owed by governments and more of it is owned by central banks. Since these banks have no incentive to hassle countries for repayment, the air of crisis has dissipated. Banks have more capital, making them more secure. And low interest rates have made servicing debt more affordable for both consumers and …

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The punishment continues

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IN LATE June Daimler, a German carmaker, broke ground on a new Mercedes-Benz plant north-west of Moscow. “We are confident in the long-term potential of Russia,” Markus Schäfer, a board member, said at the ceremony. The €250m ($296m) factory marked the first investment by a Western carmaker since America and the European Union slapped sanctions on Russia as punishment for its aggression in Ukraine three years ago.
After more than two years of recession, Russia is …

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MUSEUM SIAM in Bangkok is dedicated to exploring all things Thai. Until July 2nd, that includes an exhibition on the Asian financial crisis, which began on that date 20 years ago, when the Thai baht lost its peg with the dollar. The exhibition features two seesaws, showing how many baht were required to balance one dollar, both before the crisis (25) and after (over 50 at one point). Visitors can also read the testimony of some of the victims, including a high-flying stockbroker who was reduced to selling sandwiches, and a businesswoman whose boss told her to “take care of the work for me” before hanging himself. (In Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, 10,400 people killed themselves as a result …

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Easy money

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WHEN the financial crisis was at its height in 2008, being a debtor was a dreadful experience. Banks and companies scrambled desperately to get the financing they needed.
But the balance of power in the financial markets can easily shift. In 2005 and 2006, credit had been easy to get on generous terms. Not only were loans cheap and plentiful; they also suffered from fewer restrictions. Until then, corporate loans had many covenants offering safeguards for lenders if the debtor’s financial position were to deteriorate. But 2005-06 saw the emergence of “covenant-lite” loans in which such restrictions were virtually non-existent.

The cycle has turned again. Analysis by Moody’s, a ratings agency, shows …

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Anti-gentrification activists staged a protest outside of Weird Wave Coffee Brewers recently, chanting "Weird Cafe has got to go."

About a third of Boyle Heights’ 90,000 residents live below the poverty line. But lower rents have attracted art galleries to the area, and that is drawing the ire of residents and activists.

(Image credit: Saul Gonzalez/KCRW)

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Despite high unemployment and poverty, the tribe has never touched the billions of tons of coal underneath its land. But new opportunities from the Trump administration could change that.

(Image credit: Shane Thomas McMillan for NPR)

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