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Microloans Work Best With Proven Entrepreneurs

1,000 rupees = approx. $14 USD

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

Microcredit programs are more effective when the money is lent to people who have greater entrepreneurial acumen/have prior business experience, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) study on the long-term impact of a microlending program in India.

The program “had strong positive effects for households that were already engaged in what they call ‘gung-ho’ entrepreneurship and almost no effect for others,” the researchers found after studying 52 Hyderabad neighborhoods receiving loans from lender Spandana between 2006 and 2016.

Some used the loans to hire employees or invest in their business, while others paid off other loans or put the money toward their business on a less ambitious scale, researchers found. 

“The majority of business growth associated with microcredit comes from a small share of firms. Their growth generates employment opportunities for others who might otherwise become ‘reluctant’ entrepreneurs,” NBER wrote in its summary of the research. 

Northern Europe Maintains a Positive View of Its Economy, Even Amid the Pandemic

Source: Pew Research Center

Nearly 75% of those in Denmark believe their country’s economic situation is good — a surprising outlook considering the restrictions COVID-19 has placed on economic activity across the world. These views were reported between June and August, 2020, and collected in a survey from the Pew Research Center.

A similar percentage of respondents from Sweden and the Netherlands share positive views about their countries’ economies. But these northern European countries are outliers, as most adults surveyed across 14 countries report a negative economic situation in their country.

Denmark and Sweden — the two countries with the highest percentage of positive assessments of their respective economies — have had relatively low COVID-19 infection and death rates. They were also two of the first countries in Europe to lift lockdown restrictions. There is a correlation between how respondents perceive their country’s response to COVID-19 and how they view the economic status of their country, according to the research: “Those who view their country’s coronavirus response negatively are more likely to describe their country’s current economic situation as bad.” 

GDP Growth Depends on Far More Than Investment

Source: World Economic Outlook Database, IMF

Average gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in Latin America has not grown consistently since 1990. However, in the last 30 years, GDP in Asian countries has grown fourfold — in part due to investor activity, according to a paper from the International Monetary Fund. 

Over the past two decades, Latin America has received far less investment compared to Asian countries — but more than European countries, and Europe saw growth in GDP during the same period. Europe’s growth resulted from institutional reforms, meaning the relatively low GDP growth in Latin America is due to factors beyond investment.

The combination and quality of human capital, business climate and governance is what makes a difference: “In countries where property rights are not secure and governance is poor, firms will remain small and productivity low,” the paper notes. IMF analysis found that Latin American countries score low on both human capital and strong governance, making low investment in Latin America the result of low growth — not the cause. “Governments solely focused on boosting investment might want to look at the problem from a different perspective,” says the IMF.

50% of Jobs Lost in US Performing Arts Due to COVID-19

Source: Brookings Institution

The creative industry will lose an estimated 31% of jobs and 9% of its sales in the United States due to the impact from coronavirus. Fine and performing arts will see the heaviest loss at 1.4 million jobs and $42.5 billion in sales, according to estimates from the Brookings Institution, due to the pause in live performances.  

The southern region of the U.S. will suffer the most losses, followed by the western region, as creative industries in these areas are larger, with California, New York and Texas being most economically affected.

The creative industry is “one of the sectors most at risk from COVID-19,” says Brookings. The sector heavily supports other regional economies as well, and without the right financial support, “the damage will have reverberating effects” beyond the economy, on culture and quality of life.

News Deserts Are a Major Loss for Communities Across the US

Source: UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media

More than 2,100 — or one quarter — of newspapers have disappeared in the United States since 2004. 

News deserts, or areas with one local newspaper or none, “contribute to the cultural, economic and political divide within the country,” according to a report from the University of North Carolina. Those who live in news deserts tend to be older, less formally educated and more economically vulnerable, and their lack of access to local news may result in less political engagement and interest in voting. 

During a crisis, local news outlets play a vital role in distributing the latest safety information, but the Brookings Institution found that half of the counties reporting COVID-19 cases in April were in news deserts. Without information from local news on how the pandemic is playing out on a community level and how locals can best protect themselves against the virus, those in news deserts could be more vulnerable to its spread.

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