Summary of Capital and the Common Good

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8 Overall

8 Applicability

8 Innovation

7 Style


In this guide to using high finance to address the world’s ills, Georgia Levenson Keohane, executive director of the social-issues-oriented Pershing Square Foundation, comes across as both an idealist and a pragmatist. Keohane explains how financial innovators can help the world’s poor through such instruments as microfinance, microinsurance, green bonds and “vaccine bonds.” She calls for a “visible hand” that takes a middle path between government intervention and free market capitalism. getAbstract recommends Keohane’s smart, encouraging report to financial professionals and to readers interested in fresh approaches to beating poverty.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How “innovative finance” plays a critical role in addressing social ills and market failures;
  • How microfinance and microinsurance have evolved; and
  • How new approaches, such as “vaccine bonds” and catastrophe bonds, help alleviate poverty.

About the Author

Executive director of the Pershing Square Foundation Georgia Levenson Keohane is a professor in Columbia University Business School’s Social Enterprise Program.



Market Solutions for the Poor 

For the globe’s poorest people, jobs and economic development are crucially important. The only way the poor can escape problems such as high infant mortality and diseases like malaria and tuberculosis is to improve their subsistence-level incomes. In India and Brazil, as well as across Africa, GDP growth has been running at 5% per year for a decade. The market’s invisible hand has begun to improve the lives of the poor, but the market itself can’t fix all their social ills or repair the prevailing economic inequalities. Ending poverty requires a “visible hand” to guide economies, address market failures and divert resources where needed. “Innovative finance” doesn’t have to rely on state intervention. Governments in many fragile nations have shown that they’re powerless to stem the tide of suffering. Nonprofits and socially minded investors can guide projects that focus on the public good.

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