This book helps to understand the enigmatic microfinance sector by tracing its evolution and asking how it works as a financial system. Our present capitalism is a financialized capitalism, and microfinance is its response to poverty. Microfinance has broad-ranging effects, reaching
hundreds of millions of people and generating substantial revenues. Although systemic flaws have become obvious, most strikingly with the 2010 Indian crisis that was marked by overindebtedness, suicides and violence, the industry's expansion continues unabated. As Philip Mader argues, microfinance heralds less the end of poverty than new, more financialized forms of poverty. While microfinance promises to empower, it generates discipline and extracts substantial resources from the poor, producing new crises and new forms of dispossession.
Philip Mader is a research fellow at the Institute for Development Studies,
University of Sussex, UK. He taught in Basel and studied in Sussex, Cambridge, Cologne, and Harvard. His doctoral thesis, which was written at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, won the German Thesis Award and the Max Planck Society's Otto Hahn Medal.
"Microfinance is financialization dressed up as charity: a pathway for global finance to penetrate the capitalist periphery. In this richly documented book, Mader dispels the myth that debt can move the poor out of poverty. Far from an economics of liberation, microfinance is part of a politics of repression: it extracts more wealth than it creates, and reinforces economic dependence."
Wolfgang Streeck, Emeritus Professor, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Germany.