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The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else

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  • Posted July 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Must Read

    Makes understanding economic problems in the Second and Third Worlds (sorry, still the best shorthand descriptions available!), this book is a must read. And, altho' wrriten 12 years ago, explains the current problems with foreclosures- the inability to properly record transfers of property after the Crash of '08.Short, pointed and easy to follow.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2007

    An important book for domestic policy wonks

    I have been hearing about this book for at least 5 years, and it was supposed to be an amazing, viewpoint-changing experience, so I figured that I should probably get around to reading it. I can't say that it radically changed my views of capitalism in respect to other competing economic systems, but the author does do an excellent job of explaining exactly why the 3rd world always seems to miss out on capitalistic expansions. While 'the West' keeps getting richer, other people miss out and stay relatively poor. Why is this? Are they stupid? Are they lazy? No, they aren't stupid and they aren't lazy. The problem is that everyone seems to have forgotten that capitalsim is all about capital (hence the name). And in the 3rd world, most people are not allowed to develop capital because they don't own official property. Why? I liked the flow chart that showed how it would take literally 18 years to follow all the legal channels to buy property legally in Haiti. It is so ridiculous, that nobody outside of the system bothers trying to get on the inside, so they just squat on land and 'own' it in this fashion. Because they lack legal title, however, they can't use that land or house as collateral for a loan, a basic thing Americans like me take for granted. I must say that I had never thought about it before, but it totally makes sense. My only problem with this book is that it felt too long. It's only about 230 pages sans end notes and index, so it isn't physically that long, but it really only takes the author about 150 pages to make his point, and the rest of the book is him hammering the same point over and over and over again. It gets tedious, but this is still an important book for everyone who cares about helping the poor attain the benefits of the global economic system.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2005

    Eradicate Poverty

    While the world's leaders struggle to find answers to the problems of poverty and ponder ways to administer aid monies effectively, Mr DeSoto offers some refreshingly basic ideas. First and foremost, simplify titles to land ownership. If a person has clear title to their land, they can borrow against it. Something we take for granted in the US, clear title is a rarity in the developing world. Secondly, streamline the process of registering your business. Most of the developing world operates illegally because it takes an inordinate amount of resources, both in hours and in dollars, to go through the process of registering a business. Simple ideas, sensational output. A must read for international policy afficianados.

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