Economic Development

The Mystery of Capital
by Hernando de Soto

In The Mystery of Capital, Hernando de Soto takes up the question that is central to one of the most crucial problems the world faces today: Why do some countries succeed at capitalism while others fail?

Although the link between property and wealth creation is primarily a legal one, The Mystery of Capital argues that the process of making it a normalized component of a society can require a political transformation more than anything else. "Every developed nation in the world at one time went through the transformation from predominantly informal, extralegal ownership to a formal, unified legal property system, but in the West we've forgotten that creating this system is also what allowed people everywhere to leverage property into wealth."

Backed by a strong team of independent researchers, Hernando de Soto finds that structural weaknesses adversely affect the ability of poor nations to accumulate capital, rather than the widely held belief that cultural differences determine success. He identifies the legal structure of property and property rights, which is largely taken for granted in the west, as a primary catalyst for wealth creation. The ability to leverage property assets, and to generate additional liquid investments from them, should make it possible to transform underperforming economies.

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About the Author

Hernando de Soto is President of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD) which is working towards the practical implementation of measures for bringing the world's poor into the economic mainstream. De Soto played an integral role in the modernization of Peru's economic and political system and was named one of the five leading Latin American innovators of the century by Time magazine in its May 1999 issue on Leaders for the New Millennium.

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