CHICAGO, April 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Robert M. Townsend, Professor of Economics at MIT and Faculty Director of the Consortium on Financial Systems and Poverty, will speak at a World Bank-IMF spring panel discussion titled, "Financial Inclusion: From Principles to Action." (Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100914/DC63872LOGO) The discussion is part of the annual World Bank-International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings. It will be held on Sunday, April 22 in Washington, D.C. Townsend will join colleagues from the Mexico Ministry of Finance, the World Bank, and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion to present and discuss strategies for enhancing financial inclusion. Financial inclusion refers to the effort to connect low income and disadvantaged citizens with financial services, products, and knowledge, particularly in developing countries. Although estimates and methods for determining the percentage of the world's population who is excluded from the formal banking sector vary, consensus suggests that it may be as high as 50 percent. The forum is co-hosted by the World Bank and the Mexico Ministry of Finance in an effort to generate momentum and understanding about actions that promote financial inclusion ahead of the G20 Los Cabos Summit to be held in June 2012. The spring forum will also be available live online at www.worldbank.org/financialinclusion. Robert M. Townsend is the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Research Associate at the University of Chicago. He is a development economist whose recent work focuses on analyzing the role and impact of financial systems on developing economies by studying applied general equilibrium models and contract theory. In 2009, Townsend launched the Consortium on Financial Systems and Poverty, a research organization of economists, with the goal of improving the lives of the poor and reducing poverty through helping to identify, design, and implement more efficient financial services and financial systems.