Magazine article New Internationalist

The Mystery of Capital by Hernando De Soto//Private Planet by David Cromwell

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Mystery of Capital by Hernando De Soto//Private Planet by David Cromwell

Article excerpt

`Capitalism appears increasingly as the leitmotif of a self-serving guild of businessmen and their technocracies.' This is not the sort of assertion you'd expect to read in a book that comes with fulsome praise from Margaret Thatcher, The Economist and the godfather of neoliberal economics himself, Milton Friedman. But then, the Peruvian intellectual pragmatist Hernando de Soto is a legendary jester to this `self-serving guild' and, most recently, to the venal Alberto Fujimori, the former dictator of Peru who is now a fugitive in Japan.

Which is not to imply that de Soto has nothing of interest to say. The Mystery of Capital invents and then confronts its own riddle: `Why capitalism triumphs in the West and fails everywhere else.' He explores some diverting byways, particularly the notion that poor people have more assets than they are permitted to realize. This, he concludes, is because they lack private property rights. …

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