Remittances are a double-edged sword that can lock low-income countries in a trap of low growth and high emigration. Could cryptocurrencies allow for remittances to more effectively create economic opportunities?
Fu Manchu was starting to feel delirious. For the last week or so, the three-masted Qing Dynasty junk that Manchu had been aboard was all but dead in the water.
The thick cotton sails of the junk now slumped over, reminded Manchu of his current state of mind and just how increasingly dire his circumstances were becoming by the day.
The fifteen-year-old Manchu had heard that there was gold on the western coast of the United States and since he had had no luck at the Imperial Exams — the only way to become an official and get rich through corruption in the 18th century Qing Dynasty — he had no choice other than to hustle as many taels of silver as he could muster to pay for the voyage eastwards to the western coast of the (at the time) youthful United States.
The voyage was not for the faint of heart. Battling scurvy, rickets and a voyage that could take as long as six months (assuming the ship made it to its destination), 18th century merchants, hucksters and every manner of Chinese in between looked eastwards (westwards?) to forge a better life in the fledgling United States, crossing vast expanses of open ocean in the process.
These days, the journey for migrants, whether they are escaping economic, social or political conditions from the countries of their origin may be just as harrowing.
Whether that sojourn requires a perilous trek across miles of a scorching desert or a one-way ticket on board an inflatable raft over the Mediterranean Sea — migration is on the rise.
But what is often forgotten about migration is its byproduct for the world economy — surging remittances.