The story behind ‘The Child Exchange’ in US

ProPublica reporter Marshall Allen sits down with Megan Twohey of Reuters to get the story behind "The Child Exchanges" investigation, which looked into how US families use Internet message boards to abandon difficult children adopted from other countries

Last week, Megan Twohey of Reuters published a major investigation about how American families use Internet message boards to abandon difficult children adopted from other countries. Twohey showed how exasperated families use Yahoo and Facebook groups to find new parents for the children they swore to take care of. And far too often, these children end up in homes where the guardians have not been approved to take care of children, where they can be sexually abused or put in surroundings that are dangerous for their well-being.

ProPublica reporter Marshall Allen sat down with Twohey to get the story behind the story of piecing "The Child Exchange" together. Asked to describe how she got started, Twohey said, "One of the most valuable things I think about this project is I worked with our database team. We basically did a deep dive on one of the Yahoo groups where this - it's called re-homing - activity takes place. And we scraped all 5,000 messages going back five years and built a database where we were able to quantify what was going on. We logged every single offer of a child that was being made over a 5-year period and we found that on average a child was being offered up once a week."

Twohey added, "It's interesting to note too that the term ‘re-homing’ was first used to describe people seeking new owners for their pets. And some of the ads read remarkably similar to the ads that you'd see for people trying to find a new home for their pet. Some of the ads would describe kids as being obedient, eager to please, or talk about them being pretty."

Read the five-part investigation at and you can listen to this podcast on iTunes and Stitcher.




RBI increases repo rate by 25 bps, cuts MSF rate to 9.5%

Raghuram Rajan, in his first monetary policy, has increased repo rate while reducing MSF or borrowing rate for banks by 0.75%

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in its mid-quarter credit policy review has reduced marginal standing facility (MSF) rate by 75 basis points (bps) to 9.5% and minimum daily maintenance of the cash reserve ratio (CRR) to 95% of the requirement from 99%. The central bank increased repo rate by 25bps to 7.5% with immediate effect. Consequently reverse repo rate and bank rates are adjusted to 6.5% and 9.5%, respectively. RBI has kept CRR unchanged at 4%.


"The policy stance and measures set out in this review begins the process of cautious unwinding of the exceptional measures, which will restore normalcy to financial flows. They are also intended to address inflationary pressures so as to provide a stable nominal anchor for the economy, thereby mitigating exchange market pressures and creating a conducive environment for the revitalisation of sustainable growth," RBI said in a statement.


There has been a lot of uncertainty regarding the RBI’s operative instruments (repo rate and MSF), its intended objectives (growth/inflation or forex volatility) as well as the policy stance of the new governor. "The new RBI under Dr Raghuram Rajan brings more clarity on the instrument (repo) versus objective (CPI inflation/inflation expectations), in contrast to the stealth tightening route followed thus far. For the economy, interest rates will likely be much higher than assumed thus far, and growth should be weaker in the near-term," said Nomura Financial Advisory and Securities (India) Pvt Ltd in a report.


India Ratings & Research said with the repo rate going up, MSF rate coming down and the minimum daily maintenance of CRR declining to 95%, it is mixed bag for the banks so far as their lending rates are concerned. However, the Fitch group company said, it does not expect any cut in the base rate of the banks.  On the contrary, in select cases, it might actually go up, the ratings agency added.


In a report, Standard Chartered Bank said, "...the unexpected policy rate hike and a strong hawkish bias are likely to dampen market sentiment, in our view. We believe these measures imply two things. First, the 9% appreciation in Indian rupee since the beginning of September, combined with the dovish FOMC, had comforted the RBI on the currency market. Second, with an uptick in WPI inflation, still elevated CPI inflation, and the risk of fiscal slippage, the RBI has shifted focus back to domestic factors. Indeed, the RBI has prepared the market for possible policy actions outside the scheduled policy meetings, if needed."


Since mid-July, the central bank has put in place a number of exceptional measures to tighten liquidity with a view to dampening volatility in the foreign exchange market. These measures have raised the effective policy rate for monetary policy operations to 10.25%, aligned to the re-calibrated MSF rate. The intent has been to maintain tight liquidity conditions at the short end of the term structure until the measures designed to alter the path of the current account deficit (CAD) and improve prospects for its stable funding take effect.


"As a number of these measures are now in place and because the external environment has improved, it is now possible for the Reserve Bank to contemplate easing these exceptional measures in a calibrated manner. As a first step, therefore, the MSF rate is reduced by 75 basis points. Furthermore, the minimum daily maintenance of the CRR prescribed by the Reserve Bank is brought down from 99% of the requirement to 95%. The timing and direction of further actions on exceptional measures will be contingent upon exchange market stability, and can be two-way. Further actions need not be announced only on policy dates. However, any further change in the minimum daily maintenance of the CRR is not contemplated," RBI said.


While appreciating the RBI's concern on inflation, industry body Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) said, this (inflation) is a supply side led issue and therefore, at this point of time, growth should have found priority for the central bank. "Industry would have liked reduction in headline rates. The reduction in MSF by 75 bps is encouraging as this is working as the short term interest rate. However, the increase in repo rate could have been avoided as industry is already reeling under pressures of high cost of capital and low availability in a tight liquidity situation," said, Chandrajit Banerjee, director general, CII.


Industry body ASSOCHAM said it believes that an eventual normalization of monetary policy by the RBI, in the form of cuts in the repo rate, is a necessary condition for improving sentiment and providing fillip to economic growth momentum. Rana Kapoor, president, ASSOCHAM, said, "Going forward, the monetary policy stance needs to take into account the lack of adequate growth momentum in the industrial and services sector along with sluggishness in domestic consumption. As Rupee moves towards levels consistent with economic fundamentals, the MSF rate should be aligned with the repo rate and lowered further to 8.50%."


Here are the highlights of RBI’s mid-quarter monetary policy review…


Key short-term lending rate (repo rate) hiked by 0.25% to 7.5%.


Borrowing rate for banks reduced under marginal standing facility by 0.75% to 9.5%.


Minimum daily liquidity maintenance of CRR eased to 95% from 99%.


Cash reserve ratio (CRR) maintained at 4%.


Maiden policy announcement by new RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan


Inflation worrisome, no room for complacency


WPI inflation will be higher than that projected for rest of the year.


Economic growth trailing below potential


Pace of infrastructure project completion subdued, new projects’ starts remain muted.


Next monetary policy review on 29th October 29


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