The idea behind microcredit is that if you give poor people in developing countries access to credit, the ability to borrow, they will use that money to start or expand businesses which will eventually help them pull themselves out of poverty. But ever since these programs boomed in the early 2000's, questions have been raised about how effective they are.
Billionaire investment legend Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has had its credit rating lowered from AA+ to AA by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services.
In a statement, S&P says that even though Berkshire Hathaway has an "excellent business profile," the lower credit rating "better reflects our view of BRK's dependence on its core insurance operations for most of its dividend income." (S&P's statement is posted on its website, but you have to register to view it.)
The Internet has managed to disrupt many industries, from publishing to music. So why not lending?
Google is teaming up with the nation's largest peer-to-peer lender. The search and tech giant is investing $125 million in Lending Club, which gets borrowers and lenders together outside the conventional banking system. Google's move and the actions of other big players reflect a growing interest in peer-to-peer lending.