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16. Braudel’s Bell Jar

16. Braudel’s Bell Jar


Prof: Today what I’d
like to do is focus first on de Soto,
and then on the larger question–you have your informal
property back, Jennifer–and then on the
larger question of what’s the point of all this?
What is the merit of capitalism?
We know a lot of things that
capitalism isn’t really great at,
and we know that it has–if you let it run its own course,
it is inclined toward instability and it is inclined
toward stupendous disruption of the planet.
Yet, I for one,
am a guarded enthusiast for capitalism.
The underlying point of it must
have something to do with helping people to have a fuller
capacity to lead their lives. You might call it a practical
freedom. The subject for today and for
next Monday bring that out, that is, today with de Soto and
I’m going to call on several of you to think about how you would
use 5% of the GDP of a country to do as much good as possible,
and then on Monday, The White Tiger,
which illustrates, quite powerfully,
that increasing the average income or wealth in a country
can be a wonderful thing, but seen from the very bottom
cannot be so great. The protagonist in The White
Tiger is a brilliant articulator, if you will,
of that problem. Okay, so the photograph in
front of you is meant to call forth de Soto’s idea of
Braudel’s bell jar, and the foreground,
a vast favela is all informal property,
and because it’s informal property it is dead capital,
and the background is not only live capital and formal
property, but extremely dense piling up
of live capital. It is an expression of intense
economic activity and presumably, for the most part,
of great economic success. De Soto, on pages 160 and 161
has–first of all he has some typeface there that is small
enough that I can’t read it, and my guess is,
many of you will struggle to read it.
But at the top of the page he
has a bridge showing his prescription for the path from
dead capital on the left to live capital on the right.
Across the top,
the roadway, if you will,
is the commercial strategy, the creation of businesses,
the taking of debt in order to create new enterprises.
Then the process by which de
Soto and his disciples first map out the problem,
and then engage in a political and legal strategy to create the
framework for formalized property all the way to the
bottom of society, and then the operational
strategies whereby that is implemented,
a neighborhood at a time, a favela at a time.
De Soto is deadly serious about
this, and it’s a practical enterprise.
I’m going to Peru at the end of
term to sit in on an attempt by de Soto and his fellows to
formalize a set of neighborhoods around a city,
and I hope to write a business case that will be used in this
course a year from now on that trip.
Now if you take the totality of
de Soto’s book, the only thing worse than
leaving informal property informal,
from his point of view, is force fitting a formalized
system invented in a university onto an existing system of
informal property. I’d like to talk about that
with you or a few minutes and give you a case from my own
experience in an American setting.
Well informal property,
these are boundaries in an imaginary informal property
system, which correspond to the
ingrained habits and customs of the people who own this
property, and their inclination will be
always to defend it against change imposed arbitrarily from
outside. If you ask smart professors at
The Yale School of Management, what’s the most efficient way
to lay out the boundaries of property,
they’ll give you something like the red grid here,
with right angles and straight lines.
Right angles and straight lines
have a brilliant history in American property law.
President Jefferson laid out a
grid like this on all but the northeast corner of the U.S.,
of longitude and latitude lines defining sections of 640 acres,
and the whole development of the American West is actually
on– with the exception of the
mountainous areas, for example, The Sierra Nevadas.
With that exception the whole
country looks like this rec– rectalinear grid,
and as you fly from coast to coast,
you can see the grid laid out in a perfectly symmetrical way,
with center pivot irrigation interrupting the grid from time
to time, and an occasional river.
The better way,
according to de Soto, is to adapt formal systems to
fit informal systems; to incrementally add the
perimeter meets and bounds shown here,
and ultimately to convert the old boundaries to new
boundaries, the old boundaries being
recognized only by people living within this little area;
the new boundaries being recognized all the way up to the
nation’s state level; and in theory,
all the way up to the world level, if people from another
country are engaged in a property transaction.
For example,
if the owner of this land seeks to take debt from a bank in New
York and the property is in Peru,
the whole world system is involved in the formalization,
and the obligation of the Peruvian government to honor a
contract with an American bank would come into play.
And so even at the very lowest
level, the ultimate chain of connections to the top level of
government on a world scale is important.
Nearly twenty years ago,
a fellow named Kurt Schmoke, Yale class of 1970,
and sometimes senior fellow of The Yale Corporation,
was Mayor of Baltimore. I didn’t actually have him as a
student here but I was working then on cities that had too much
housing, which I called “under
crowded cities.” You read all the city planning
books from that period, it’s all about how do we handle
all this new population that has to be housed,
and of course the real story for a city like Baltimore,
was a vast housing surplus. Anybody come from Baltimore?
I’ll settle for Washington or
Philadelphia, or Wilmington,
what have we got in the back there?
What city?
Student: Washington.
Prof: Okay can you–can
you give us a feel for what a neighborhood constructed of row
houses looks like? How it’s organized.
Student: Well I can
tell you about Baltimore because I see it on the train.
It looks like all the houses
are boarded up, all the backyards are trashed,
and there’s a lot of vacancy and just desolate wasteland.
Prof: Okay,
it’s still a mess, right?
Student: Yeah.
Prof: Which means I was
not very effective, and Mayor Schmoke was not very
effective. The difficulty with–row houses
are what the economists call an inferior good.
The standard Baltimore row
house is nine feet wide, the widest are 16 feet wide,
so it’s like living in a railroad car,
or in–if it’s a tall one, two or three railroad cars
stacked on top of each other. By and large,
people prefer ranch houses, which are more–which more
nearly approximate a square layout.
People also don’t like living
around visible signs of decay like the ones just described.
When I came on the scene,
this is a very abstract representation,
but the green dots represent–the squares represent
property units and the green dots represent occupied units,
the yellow dots represent units that are still standing but
condemned, and the blank units represent
areas where the house has been torn down.
There’s no precision in what
I’m doing here but it’ll show you the difficulty of trying to
change something for the better. I didn’t even know de Soto’s
work at this time, but I was acting on the same
general intuitions that he has; that we’re at the edge of the
bell jar–this slide’s just in the wrong place,
but the red line is the edge of the bell jar.
One solution to missing
properties is to install waterfalls;
this was done as a joke by a student at Johns Hopkins.
It didn’t involve any actual
water or construction; it’s just a photographic joke.
Another approach,
and it’s the one that I advocated,
is to triage neighborhoods and to take a neighborhood like this
where you have very few occupied units,
most of what’s there standing is condemned,
and lots of vacant lots. To say let’s find a way to use
the wealth of people living here to improve conditions in a more
promising adjacent neighborhood. The first thought is that you
take down the condemned houses in the unworkable area,
and at the same time, you offer swaps where you buy
for what it’s worth, which is not a lot,
you buy houses in the unworkable area from people,
and part of their payment is clear title to a similar space
in a more promising and nearby neighborhood.
There is a–we’re creating a
market here that has a barter element in it,
land and a small cash payment, and an effort to facilitate the
financing of replacement housing.
So after the people make those
moves, this is theory, you get a much denser occupancy
grid in the top, and you get some benefit from
that; one benefit is that crime
generally goes down. A neighborhood which is mostly
vacant lots is an invitation to criminal activity.
The statistics on this area in
Baltimore, and it had hundreds of areas like this one,
the crime statistics are brutal.
Another fact is that the
administration of public services is wildly inefficient
where only a few houses in a neighborhood have trash to take
away, where streets need to be plowed
and cleaned, even when very few people use
them and where police services are stretched extremely thin.
The idea is to densify one area
at the expense of another, and then to demolish and
replace the condemned houses in the stronger neighborhood and
you’ve made some progress. Well the first thing
that–what’s the first objection that comes to mind?
What do you do with this?
This now vacant area,
what do you do with it? Anybody got a suggestion?
Sasha?
Student: Make it a park.
Prof: Make it a park,
that’s good, and it could be a park with a
huge lake in it, lakes are much easier to
administer than– you don’t have to mow lakes,
and crime is relatively scarce–
aquatic crime is, as far as I know,
rare. Or in some places,
you make it a golf course. There’s a place in Miami where
they’ve created a zone where they’ve just–
it just grows wildly, it’s largely bamboo and there’s
a 12-foot fence around it, and the thought is that 50
years from now somebody will figure out what to do with it.
That’s one problem,
but there’s another set of problems that are even tougher,
and that is that all these neighborhoods have leaders.
Leaders are not really very
generous about having you take their followers away.
People who are say Aldermen,
or people who are head of a neighborhood development board,
or of a neighborhood crime watch, they all come forward and
they say, “This is madness!
These people live in perfectly
good houses where they are,” and the ultimate
effect is to drive the transaction costs through the
ceiling. The cost of getting the deals
made is astronomically high. It’s a perfect illustration of
why the Coase theorem is serious,
because if the transaction costs are high enough,
even obviously beneficial to all sides swaps,
just don’t happen. De Soto is dealing with
environments in which transaction costs are extremely
high, in which the difficulty of
getting things like this done are–
is just very, very great. It’s fine for you and I to read
this elegant little book, but that’s very different from
actually accomplishing things on the street,
so that this triangular relationship between imaginary
leaders would become a dominant obstacle to completion of the
task. Back to Coase.
The thesis, as you will
remember, is that where there are clear cut entitlements,
a high degree of transparency and symmetrical transparency,
and low transaction costs, efficient swaps are feasible.
And on the surface de Soto is
all about clear entitlement. He’s perfectly aware that
without being able to execute economic transactions,
for example, borrowing against a clear
entitlement, very little has been
accomplished. That if corruption,
for example, interdicts transparency,
those transactions won’t happen, or if they do they will
be the wrong transactions. One way to think about how to
use de Soto practically is to take the three conditions from
this simplified version of the Coase theorem and put them in a
table with relatively practical categories that you can deal
with, and then look for ways in
which, for example, education might impact
transparency and so on. I’m going to–what I want to do
is proceed much less formally than this.
The chart is kind of–it’s a
very rigid framework, it’s not a bad framework,
but it’s a rigid one. Now have some of you thought
about how you’d spend 5% of the GDP of a country?
Wave if you have.
I’ve got one,
two–more–one, two–no one in this section?
Three–no one’s fessing up in
the front row here. Over here?
Okay we’re going to–there we
are in the back–so we’re going to do some winging here,
I’m afraid. That’s okay.
Now Leslie, will you trade me
places? There’s some chalk–now
what–the exercise is to figure out if we can create large
increments in useful wealth by spending money.
Tom is it?
What have we got?
Student: I think its
education is sort of the key to everything else.
Prof: Okay you would put
education ahead of any–of all things?
Student: All other
things. Prof: Okay,
help us understand why. Student: Because I
think that having human capital can increase your investment on
everything else, but without that,
you’re not going to have the people that you need to build
roads, or expand property rights or
all these other things that de Soto talks about.
Prof: Okay so education,
a relatively well-educated populous is a necessary
condition, is that what you’re saying?
Student: Absolutely.
Prof: Okay are there any
necessary conditions to a well-educated population?
Student: Well-educated
teachers I think would be better.
Prof: Okay so we have to
have well-educated teachers. Are there any other things we
probably need? Yes.
Student:
>food and water.
Prof: Food,
running clean water, electricity,
all the infrastructure–you buy that Tom?
Student: Sure.
Prof: Okay so education
was expensive to begin with, and now it’s looking more
expensive, so we’re probably going to need
more than 5% of GDP to get very far with that but that’s a good
thing. Tal?
Student: The other
problem with education is that, unless the opportunity costs of
the education for those workers are not extremely high,
they’re not going to go school. The kids will end up trying to
make as much money as they can to support their families,
and so would not end up actually educating the populous.
Prof: Absolutely,
spot on. There’s an incident in White
Tiger which is exactly about that,
where the uncle comes and drags our protagonist away from school
because his labor has been exchanged in a family deal.
Yes, back?
Student: There’s also a
cultural problem, like certain societies don’t
want females to go to school, so there’s something deeper
than just opportunity costs at work there that must be dealt
with in other ways. Prof: I’m sure you’re
right. Can you give a specific example?
Student: Well I was
watching a movie and it was about Indian societies in which
women are not allowed to go to school,
and the figure in the movie, the leading hero,
was actually based on a real life figure who went into the
village and convinced all these different families to let their
children go to school, because it would be better for
them in the long run, but not based on opportunity
costs but basically trying to change their cultural,
kind of closedness. Prof: What’s behind this
prohibition on educating women do you suppose?
Student: I think it’s
partly to do with the males. Prof: I’ll bet on that,
you think? Student: I know that in
certain families as well, like the female cannot be more
educated then the male. In marriages–
Prof: A precept I certainly believe in.
Student: Sometimes a
family believes that if their females are too educated,
then they won’t be able to marry them off,
or something like that. Prof: Okay,
that’s terrific thank you. Yes?
Student: You also need
infrastructure in place, and laws in an economy in place
for what they’re going to do after they go to school.
In Cuba they have fantastic
education but no opportunities for anyone after that’s
finished, so for education to be
effective you also have to invest in,
sort of like, the next step. Prof: Okay,
so for education to be effective we have to have a next
step. Is the Cuban example one you
know well? Student: I wouldn’t say
I know it well. That scares me;
I don’t want you to ask me a question I don’t know.
Prof: Well can you–I
mean I’ve got a couple of– I’ve been to Cuba a couple of
times and I have a couple of Cuba stories that could fill in
the blank, but how about you try it first.
Student: I tried to go
to Cuba, but I didn’t get a visa, so I don’t know it as well
as I would. They have–well it has a lot to
do with the communist/socialist model.
There’s just no–there just
aren’t any jobs, there aren’t any–so if you’re
educated as a lawyer you just end up being,
like, a taxi driver no matter what.
Prof: Okay, good.
There’s a–I have friend whom I
met in Havana, who was sort of top five among
the fishery scientists in Cuba, PhD in biology,
and he was–he kept giving the wrong advice.
After the Russians pulled out
in the so-called special period, the government wanted to
double, and double, and double the harvest of
shrimp, and there are limits on the ecosystem,
and he kept saying, “You can’t do it,”
and finally they declared him unemployable.
And the effect of that was that
he became a taxi driver and trebled his income.
It was still a very low income,
but it trebled what he was making as a scientist.
Hands over here, yes?
Student: One of the
downsides of education is brain drain.
You put all your resources into
educating people but there are better opportunities in other
countries for them to go work, make money, and stay there,
so if you are going to put education as your main emphasis
you need to have some sort of incentive within your own
country to have people remain. Prof: Okay,
Tom do you want to answer that? Student: I agree that’s
a problem but I think it’s maybe less of a problem then it first
appears, because of remittances,
or even in cases of brain drain where people are–
get well educated and go be doctors in America rather than
in India, they’re still going to send a
percentage of that money home in the form of remittances which
can do a lot in itself to prop up an economy.
Prof: In the back.
Student: So I won’t
take all the credit for this, Richard has been convincing me
by degrees as this goes on, I think, I mean,
you’d rather have 100% of that income in your country,
and the way to get that would be through,
for instance, creating pools of capital in
your country through direct foreign investment and then the
way you would get that is through investments and
infrastructure and security. Prof: Okay,
now we’re–we have veered a long way from education when we
talk about direct foreign investment.
Would you put that as a high
priority? Student: Higher than
education, because I think that that
comes, but I think you need to be able to give people jobs and
a livelihood before you can think about educating them.
Prof: Okay what do you
think Tom? Student: I think you’re
sort of endorsing the idea of offering your country up as–
to be colonialized more or less, in saying that well the
best thing that we can do to spur our own economic growth is
to offer ourselves as an extractive nation,
and we’ll build the roads for people to come in,
and take out what they need, and I don’t know if that’s the
solution for long term economic growth.
That’s how I would read that
interpretation. Prof: Richard?
Student: I think in the
long run in order to build sustainable growth in your
country, if you’re starting off where
you don’t have any of this infrastructure or educational
facilities in place, you have to find some sort of
competitive advantage. At the initial standpoint
that’s going to be your labor, that’s going to be your
resources, anything you can offer up that’s going to attract
investment to build out the rest of these different pillars of
what you need in society. You can’t just start off with,
here’s the school and we’re going to educate people and
they’re going to keep all the value within society,
they’re going to capitalize on it, there’s not an incentive
based to really do that. So until you can actually move
up the ladder of competitive advantage and development of
your markets and education, and quality of life,
it’s sort of putting the cart before the horse in my opinion.
Prof: Okay.
Now what’s fairly obvious in
this conversation is that you’ve got to try to do more than one
thing at once. If we just say education full
stop, or if we say,
foreign direct investment full stop,
we’re not going to get it done and there has to be a complex
spiral of these things. This is why the book by Clark
that we read is so unpersuasive on this point,
because it takes one thing at a time and then says,
well that won’t do it and it’s the spiraling of several things
at once. Shoshanna, back there.
Student: I think the
problem goes back to the question at hand because with 5%
of GDP you really can’t– I think the problem goes back
to the question at hand because you can’t really do much with 5%
of your GDP so people are more likely to create this false
dichotomy of options just because they have limited
resources. Prof: Okay,
but if this were a real exercise and you had control
over 5% of the GDP of Cuba or Peru, or Nigeria what would you
do? You’ve got the 5% what’s the
first thing you better figure out?
Student: I think you
have to focus on getting basic resources and developing a basic
structure, so you may have to forfeit your
emphasis on education immediately.
Prof: Okay,
but what I’m driving at is that you would want to look at what’s
already happening the right way. You would want to,
say, if there are– if there are twelve conditions
we’re worried about, you’d want to survey and figure
out that there were three or four where you could ride
somebody else’s dollar so to speak.
Then you would figure out some
crucial set of others that you would have to pay your attention
to, does that sound right? Student: I think that’s
fair. I think the problem lies in–I
was focusing on central Asian countries when you gave us this
mini assignment, and the problem comes when you
devote everything to foreign direct investment,
when do you stop? When do you transition back to
meeting all those other criteria that you laid out in the
beginning? Prof: Okay,
so it sounds like this is a pretty complicated subject.
Richard?
Student: I apologize.
I wanted to clarify what we
were–our point was which is by attracting foreign investment
the idea is that is not mutually exclusive,
so instead of taking a limited 5% of GDP and allocating it
towards one aspect of society, if you can signal to the
broader markets that you’re an attractive investment place
you’ve now grown that pool of capital such that it can be
invested through all the different aspects of what you
need to build society as opposed to cherry picking one over
another. That’s the goal of attracting
multiple investors. Prof: One of–so the one
thing that we’re at least clear about is that there is no secret
sauce, there’s no one secret sauce
that is going to get this job done.
It’s vastly more complex.
Now who–did you have your hand
up a moment ago? Student: I think it’s
>Prof: Been covered?
Student: I think it has.
Prof: Okay.
Who will give us a fresh start
with a– Student: I was going to
say that what de Soto keeps emphasizing is the importance of
political leadership, and what he forgets is that in
many of these developing countries,
the political leadership itself is very corrupt,
and it’s not within the leadership’s best interest to
move the society forward, so I thought that empowering
education would give us better leaders that would follow de
Soto’s ideas of transforming debt capital
>. Prof: So you and Tom are
playing the same tune, more or less?
Student: Yes.
Prof: Same tune,
slightly different rationale. Student: Yeah.
Prof: Okay good.
Student: I was just
about to add to that with an example, actually,
of a Kosovo case that I had experienced this summer.
When I was in Kosovo they had a
hard time attracting leaders because most of them fled as
refugees in the 1999 war, so the USAID program had
invested, instead of like this foreign direct investment
project, there are projects in that as
well, but a professional studies
course that educates leaders, particularly in finance and
investments and these sorts of things,
so it’s bringing the brain drain back–
like back into the country, and investing in leaders
instead of– so then once they have an
efficient leadership base they can go out and do these things
themselves. Prof: Did I just hear
you say that MBA education is the most important thing in the
world? Student: Wouldn’t that
be nice. Prof: Thanks.
Who would–are there–why am I
doing that? Who would start us with an
entirely different starting point, yes?
Student: I don’t know
how you would do this with 5% of the GDP but I think if there
were secret sauce it would be efficiency and low transaction
costs. This is coming from my
experience in Latin America, which, I’ve worked there and
I’ve traveled there, and I don’t even understand how
they do business there ever, because it’s so inefficient.
Like down to little things,
like I know in Buenos Aries they don’t have enough coins but
you can only pay with coins to ride the bus,
but there’s a shortage of coins, and so sometimes you just
can’t get on the bus because you have cash but you don’t have
coins. It’s little things like that,
but I don’t know how you would–
like where you would even begin to invest to make those things
more efficient, but I think the foreign direct
investment and the competitive advantage flow from that.
You’re not going to be a good
candidate unless you have low transaction costs within the
country. Prof: Okay.
What I think I hear you saying
is that you’ve got to get the Coase theorem working?
Student: Right and that
has something to do with corruption, or a lot to do with
corruption of the government, and the legal system.
Prof: Okay, good.
Yes?
Student: A couple of
things that I’d do here. If you’re getting 5% of the
GDP, one thing that we should keep in mind is that we can
assume that the economy will go on forever,
so I would not spend 5% of the GDP in that way given here.
I’d divide it over a number of
years. The second is that the money
that I’d be getting, I would not leave a penny in
the hands of the government. I would give it to the private
sector and ear market a thousand villages and ask the private
sector to use that money in that thousand villages.
The next year,
based on their performances, the second allotment that I
would get out of that 5% of the GDP would be again given to the
private companies who have performed well.
Now I’ll leave it up to them
how do they want to develop the villages,
it can be a holistic development, it can be
incomplete development, it can be corrupt development,
but the second year’s resources would be only going on the basis
of the quality of the development.
Prof: Okay so what you
want to do is put as much rocket fuel as you can in the rockets
that are already moving? Student: Exactly,
but make sure that the rockets–the next year the
rockets move based on the performance of the rockets.
Prof: Okay and if you
were a public official would there be some problem about that
do you imagine? Student: A lot of
problems. Prof: Right,
because the natural tendency is to redistribute from the
functioning rockets to the non-functioning rockets.
The axiom we saw twenty times
earlier in term about how a defining characteristic of
capitalism is that failing enterprises fail,
right, and that’s one of the ways capitalism becomes a
learning machine. You are a cruel but wise man.
Yes?
Student: In many ways,
this is I guess the– sort of the opposite of the
last comment, but you could also see some
validity to the point of using that money to try to improve
government capacity in a sense, because, as we’ve been
discussing, the government is really a strong point for
creating the stability needed for investment in other parts of
the economy. So if there was some way to,
say, use the money to increase the reach of the government into
more rural regions of the country,
or to create secure borders, things like that.
I think that that could have a
potentially positive effect, and it’s sort of a more direct
and centralized use of it, so it might be a little bit
easier. Obviously you run into problems
with corruption in government and, not that that’s minor.
Prof: Okay.
That’s a very plausible
thought, where you have a weak state which doesn’t have the
ability to actually enforce the law or to carry out policy in an
effective way, say, in rural areas.
Think of Western China or large
chunks of Afghanistan, or nearly all of Somalia;
strengthening the state if you’ve got the right incentives
for the people who benefit directly from the increment of
power. You’ve got to have the right
people there with the right incentives,
and if you have the wrong people and the wrong incentives,
you’re actually going to make things worse.
Tal.
Student: I sort of have
two different–very different ideas.
One that’s sort of bottom up
and one that’s sort of top down, from two different parts of the
world. The first one that’s sort of
bottom up would build on the work of,
sort of, micro finance, especially in India and
countries like that, where we’ve seen that if you
give entrepreneurs, even at the village level,
some basic capital they can– even based on their dead
capital, sort of, they can turn it into live
capital themselves, especially women.
And if you can focus on that
you can maybe build up sort of a local economy that’s sustainable
in its own right, and not just sort of at the
whim of FDI. At the same time,
to use a part of the world that I’m a little more familiar with,
Israel–my parents are from Israel,
I spent a good deal of time there, used to be–
it was built up on the Kibbutz system,
socialist system, and had many of the same
problems of the former Communist nations almost at first,
and then transitioned into a much more capitalist market
oriented economy, one that is arguably quite
strong. Part of the way that was
accomplished was, as much as it pains me to say,
through state sponsored enterprise much in the way that
China accomplished it. In the sort of building up of
basic utilities and infrastructure and the companies
that served the people’s needs for those and then sort of
spread outwards and actually turning that informal sort of
communal property into individual property and live
capital. Prof: Okay,
let’s stop and take stock here for a minute.
We’ve heard a dozen or fifteen
points of view, every single one of them
intelligent, and no single one of them any major fraction of an
answer. There is some pattern of
webbing together different strategies and of custom fitting
those strategies to the circumstance of actual countries
and actual cultures, anfd actual governmental
systems, and actual infrastructure systems.
We’ve said very little so far
today about infrastructure, and arguably trains,
planes, harbors, all that should be an
important, at least late stage and very possibly middle stage,
element in a strategy. Next time we’re–our text is
The White Tiger, and I would like to be able to call on
you to bring forth the anecdotes from White Tiger because
we’re going to use it as follows: the circumstances
described in this brilliant novel are almost invariably
circumstances that are destructive of wealth formation,
and so think about the events which happen in the book,
and then, in class, we’re going to flip them on
their heads, so to speak,
and talk about what might be beneficial to the protagonist,
and more generally, to village India,
and village Indians who come, in the language of the book,
out of the darkness into the cities.
I’ll show you a short film clip
of a company called SELCO, which is in the business of
making off-grid electric lighting for village India.
Then before the end of term
you’ll see a full business case about this company.
It’s a for-profit company,
and it depends on micro finance to sell lighting.
There are many parts of India
where there just isn’t any artificial lighting and
the–it’s quite an inspiring and interesting case.
So I’ll see you on Monday and
if you haven’t yet read every last page of White Tiger
I’d do it over the weekend.

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