“The debt is good and bad”: M. Draghi, Italian Prime Minister

“The debt is good and bad”: just two adjectives to phase out the unsustainable finance and indeed the way the borrowers do use the money makes the difference. The concept should be a reminder for each one and everybody responsible for the implementation of Next Generation EU. Let see the issue in the context of development financing.

Late 70s last century, the Populists proposed Microfinance to integrate the poor into the system. At that time circulated a story (it isn’t important whether it was true) of a lady who repaid a small number of Rupees; since then, the Populists fabricated on the episode a credit model, which had a worldwide echo. The model was supported by a slogan “everybody deserves a loan”, which found a good reception at the international level, on the grounds that: A) in the emerging economies the GVTs failed their duty to fight poverty; in other words, the Public Authorities made strong the Populism; B) the proposal was in line with the dominant role of finance in the economy, microfinance being a product of it.

The Populists succeeded because they intercepted the emerging demand from the discontent of three big segments of the population: 1) the emarginated people asking the freedom from the poverty trap, 2) the ordinary people demanding to be an equal part of the communities and 3) the people (professionals, entrepreneurs) already committed in the system but not yet have full access to the financial resources.

However, their Slogans couldn’t have a future and indeed, both field evidence and desk research dismantled the appealing and dangerous approach to tackle poverty. Why the idea has been successful? Besides the above points A) and B) there is a third one:  C) the opportunities for unscrupulous lenders.

In our opinion there are two ways of interpretation of the above Populist’s verdict: (*) they did believe in what they said because voluminous literature – documents/papers – on financial inclusion and inclusive growth have been just words, that’s to say the changes have been made to change nothing; (**) they did elude the evidence with arrogance using the same way of communication, namely via a buzzword: “sustainable finance doesn’t exist”.

Nowadays there is a movement – digitalization -, which aims at meeting the demand for discontented people making the financial resources available via an electronic device and the Technologists are the new Populists [2]. In the new picture, the establishment changed the methods and continued controlling the system, digitalization of the financial services being the new horse to ride.

So, is sustainable finance a buzzword? Try to answer this question: when a lender lends out the money, does he expect to be paid back? So, giving a loan to ineligible people and being sure that it wouldn’t be repaid, does generate a market distortion that is paid by the taxpayers, besides wasting resources.

In this understanding, how to deal with the market? The above three segments can be tackled with a well-defined approach focusing on the related market segments: enterprise development, income-generating activities and food aid, Poverty being a government duty and not a lender task, as we proposed since 1998, as Coordinator of a Finance Group with the UN-FAO Program Food into Cities [3] and again in 2011: Suggestions for designing a credit model [4].

Beginning this year, we worked out a Feasibility Study on poverty matter, taking from the Documents/Papers issued by the international financial establishment, basically there four sources: Documents/Papers to read on development finance issues: Basel III Committee [5], CGAP [6], UN 2030 Agenda on SDGs http://www.un.org.) and CSFI Banana Skins [7]

We didn’t fabricate anything but just elaborated on what the system has recommended, to mean, among other things, that poverty can be mitigated without changing the finance rules of the game but moving from a Credit-based economy to a Community-based economy.

Conclusions: The behavior of Investors/Capitalists has made finance unsustainable over the past four decades and not the rules. In 2008 they ignored the lessons of the financial crisis, in 2010 disregarded the development model proposed by Basel III Committee and in 2016 didn’t follow the UN 2030 Agenda recommendations focused on sustainable interventions. The paradox is the fact that the pandemic crisis and not the financial crisis forced to review the development’s paradigm.


[1] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/from-mdgs-sdgs-technologists-new-populists-ascanio-graziosi/

[2] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/from-mdgs-sdgs-technologists-new-populists-ascanio-graziosi/.

[3] http://www.fao.org/fcit/fcit-home/fr/

[4] http://www.microfinancegateway.org/p/site/m/template.rc/1.9.51017/.

[5] http://www.bis.org

[6] http://www.cgap.org/publications/new-funder-guidelines-market-systems-approach-financial-inclusion

[7] http://www.aboutmicrofinance.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Banana+Skins_07-16_v8.pdf

Autore: graziosiascanio

I am doctor in Economics. I am based in London (+44 7943286549) and Rome (+39 3273211887). I do have a banking background and specialization in Microfinance, Project Management-Monitoring-Evaluation, Risk Fund. I have accumulated more than 30 years of experience in 28 Countries and collaborated with the major international development organizations such as World Bank Group, Ministry of Foreign Affairs-Italian Co-operation, European Union, Danish Cooperation, FAO, UNDP and Others in East Europe, Caribbean, Central Asia and Africa.
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