I rather liked the 2006 Nobel Prize selection, Mohammad Yunus. His Grameen Bank micro-loan project seems to be a ringing success. I did find it interesting in last weekends Globe and Mail that the econ PHDs they talked with admitted that it was only a limited benefit since the average standard of living increase for participants was only 5 percent. Surely these guys must understand that five percent higher than just barely getting by is a pretty big difference in quality of life? Another economist warned that since all of these micro-loans were secured without credit, there is a risk that they wouldn’t be paid back. In fact, the Grameen bank has a 98.8% repayment ration. Pretty good for a system that runs in complete opposition to the industrial worlds banking!
I also thought that the Nobel committee’s’ politics (there’s always politics) were curiously in line with Bill Clinton’s current philosophical drive. He’s been criss-crossing the lecture circuit reminding people that security is best achieved buy buying someone a sewing machine and increasing their standard of living rather than waiting till a society has broken down and then spending a thousand times more with military pressure. To me it seems no accident that Yunus was given the Peace Prize rather than the Economics Prize. It is a pretty big advertisement for the Clinton school of security.
For the other 2006 Nobel winners, go here.