Hear: What Keeps Countries Poor?


January 12, 2015 11:53AM

Arthur Poston Jr.

July 10, 2009 4:57 PM ET

Laura Conaway

As of December 2008, Zimbabwe owed $4.69 billion to international creditors.

20:22 29:09

On today’s Planet Money:

The planet’s rich nations met this week to discuss, among other issues, ways to help the planet’s poor nations.

But those poor (and developing) nations have their own group. It’s called the anti-G20, in a nod to the G20 collection of industrialized states. The anti-G20 met at the U.N. last month, where Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Martin Khor explained what keeps impoverished countries down. Answer: Their debt to the IMF and wealthier nations.

We also take a second look at the surprisingly complex financial lives of the poor, with a focus on burial societies and very alternative banks.

Bonus: A mildly sunny indicator.

Download the podcast; or subscribe. Intro music: Terry Lynn’s “IMF.” Find us: Twitter/ Facebook/ Flickr.

Julie writes:

I have a number for you! 10,623.

That’s how much I earned last quarter on one of my retirement plans, after having posted losses, for what, a year or more?

Of course it’s still worth less than when I opened it in early 2001 (just in time to see it take a big fall after 9/11… sigh) but this gain has to mean something!

For what it’s worth, she’s the second person this week to tell me they opened an investment statement and got good news.

Everyday Society Technology and our youth

Have you noticed that today instead of a child being outside riding their bicycle, they are now planted in front of the TV, game system, cell phone in hand. I think most of it comes from our era though when parents wanted us inside but didn’t have anything to entertain us with. In our day there were such media headlines as the “Atlanta Child Murders” where a guy was abducting children and killing them for no apparent reason that I remember. This headline was small at first with most of the disappearances being thought of as the kids being drug dealers and the like with the deals going bad. It wasn’t until the 4th or 5th victim was killed that the murders become a high priority and hit the NEWS media like wild fire, again though our parents had no way of entertaining us so we remained social by being outside. Today kids have so many electronic outlets that now they struggle to interact in real-life situations. The fear our parents had for us manifest itself onto us for our kids. We are hurting ours though because without a strong balance of healthy outside play mixed with some electronic stimulation they are unfavorably unbalanced. We can still win though parents it will be a little harder because we ourselves have to unplug from the digital world and pay attention to our youth. I am still a little bit of a dinosaur though. I mean if I can get mine outside to ride their bike with me or play basketball I am there. It is just hard though to pull them out of the house when we have made the virtual world a reality for them by purchasing the game systems, cell phones and computers.

The era that I grew up in and those that came before me is gone, so we as the new generation have to create some boundaries for our children that are safe and allow them time to still enjoy the devices that we have given them. Remember balance is the key we have to give them some sort of rules of engagement when interacting with the world and their virtual worlds. It seems funny we only had to deal with the right now as it stood. Our kids have to deal with the right now, the was, and the going to be. Wheeew that is something to have to deal with at such very young ages. We are going to have to help them navigate through what we have aided them to create. I think that we as a society can overcome this but it will take a lot of the adults hard work and time to better this situation.

Till next post I am



Article 35 – Praise and Uplift for my Beautiful Wife

Hey babe I am going to uplift you today for something that you never even realized. Support – you are supporting your sister by hanging out with her and keeping you guys bond strong.  You both need this time together more than you know.

I know that I called you out on our personal relationship and I still am waiting to see the changes. We are married to one another and I have waited this long to see the changes 2 weeks isn’t going to kill us.You have to know how important it is that you spend that time with her she comes to hang out with you. None of mine do that; keep that bond strong and special. I am always going to be here for you. Long as Jesus allows I am here. Your strength is great and I love you so much.

Your Honey,


Strawberry Letter – Wrong to Cheat if Your Wife Stops Giving You Some?

Wrong to Cheat if Your Wife Stops Giving You Some?

Good morning, Shirley and Steve, I have a serious problem. I have been married for 4 years now, and we have a 3-year old son. Everything has been going well: we both make good money, take trips often, she lets me hang out with the boys with no problems, and vice versa. I spoil my wife all of the time. She gets whatever she wants. I take care of our son, cook, clean, while she goes out with her friends, sometimes every weekend. Here’s the problem: she’s stopped having sex with me. I don’t know why. We have tried talking about it, we have even gone to therapy. Nothing works. I’m a Christian man, so I’ve prayed about this, but nothing has changed. Then, I met A Breath Of Fresh Air: she is single, beautiful, friendly, and likes to have sex. We started out as friends, but the more I opened up to her, the more she’s received me: literally. She is WONDERFUL IN BED, and I never have to want for anything with her, sexually. She doesn’t want me to leave my family; she is just helping me out through a rough spot. I don’t even know what to do about my marriage. Having sex with my wife is extremely important. Steve, I KNOW you understand what it’s like to have sex with your wife. That’s all I want. I don’t want to step out, or be with ANYONE else, but I don’t know what to do. I shouldn’t ask if it is wrong to cheat on your wife if she stops giving you some. The question should be, am I justified in cheating? Thanks. Signed, FRUSTRATED

Article 31 – Praise and Uplift for my Beautiful Wife

Happy Birthday Baby –

Today my best friend has turned 38 years young. You as beautiful as the day I met you. You still have that glow that lights the way to my day and keeps me smiling for as long as we have known each.

Keep your personal stuff up it will benefit you later as the boys grow-up and we get older. I am very impressed with how you moved into this new phase of your life so quietly. Well not quietly but willingly and trying to carve out some time for you and your health. If you hadn’t done it nobody else could. this will help to move you through life better having other interest that just us. We are so happy be your focus but you should have more than just us. Keep moving yourself up the list to 1st so than when you are giving us priority whether it be the family or the boys or me. You don’t feel drained because you haven’t had time to clear your head and do something you really wanted to do for you.

Note * Manicure and Pedicure

You need you more than you can ever know and I know you so I know you need you. Have a great Birthday babe.

Stay Beautiful and Sexy

Love you,


Article 30 – Praise and Uplift for my Beautiful Wife

Babe I want to lift you up today on you taking your work trip.

We will be here when you get home always at least until they grow-up and leave to create their own lives. I however will be here until the lord takes me away from you. You need not feel guilty about going and getting some time for yourself. I was happy to hear your voice this morning. You sounded so relaxed and calm, I am happy that you were able to take that time.



Love you so much,


Article 29 – Praise and Uplift for my Beautiful Wife

I want to try and uplift you with my spirit and words babe. It is true that we are going through another of our rough phases.

I want to know that I have gone through this a number of times thinking of a different outcome. That in a definition is crazy on my part being the head of the family. We have had some successes doing so I will admit. We still have yet to conquer what I feel is our break through. I feel that you and I should be further along in our financial life than we are. That is my feeling my heart says that we are further along than I have ever dreamed. We have 6 healthy children that look to us for guidance and strength. I think we handle that task seriously very seriously.

I want to make you a promise that as we go through this life together we remain together. It is hard with the boys being unappreciative of anything that we do or give. We have to continue to teach and guide in hopes that they are hearing what we are speaking to them and really start having conversations with them on what is expected of them together. This is what we wanted so we have to embrace it and show our strength together and I want you to know that I am there with you in the trenches even though you try to do everything yourself.

I love you babe and always will.