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Feb 20, 2009

The Obama administration must tackle a problem that has bedeviled the emerging markets for years.

Wall Street harshly judged U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's proposals for saving the nation's banks. His televised remarks in mid-February were supposed to reassure watchers by outlining the Obama administration's plan for fixing the financial markets, but the market plunged as he spoke. Yet Wall Street was wrong. The lack of details in Geithner's presentation doesn't really matter right now. More important is the fact that the administration has finally focused the U.S. on the primary cause of the current economic crisis: the trillions of dollars of "toxic paper" on the balance sheets of financial institutions. This poisonous paper is scaring off potential creditors and investors who lack the legal means to understand what this paper signifies, how much there is, who has it and who might be a bad risk. Finally, policymakers in the White House seem to be coming to grips with the real enemy: the debasement of the legal financial documents that represent value, allow it to be transferred and signal risk.

Por Eduardo Corrales

IBL NEWS, 9 de enero 2009

La economía mundial marcha hacia a una depresión como consecuencia del deterioro del sistema legal de representación del valor de la propiedad, mas de ninguna manera el fracaso de una forma de hacer capitalismo significa la muerte de la economía de mercado, sostiene en la presente entrevista Hernando de Soto, Presidente del influyente think tank Instituto Libertad y Democracia (ILD).

El economista observa semejanzas entre el crispado escenario económico de hoy los de 1929 y 1873, y hay otros expertos que descubren similitudes con la crisis de 1907.

Hernando de Soto

January 20, 2006, LIMA — Two recent natural disasters have grabbed our hearts - the tsunami that ravaged 11 countries on the shores of the Indian Ocean, history's worst, and the hurricane called Katrina that inundated the city of New Orleans. Images from both regions were tragically similar: demolished buildings, floating corpses, stunned survivors, and water, water everywhere.

There was one profound difference. In New Orleans, the first thing authorities did to secure the peace and assure rebuilding was to salvage the city's legal property records that would quickly determine who owned what and where, who owed what and how much, who could be relocated quickly, who was creditworthy to finance reconstruction, whose property was so damaged that they needed help, and how to give the poor energy and clean water.

by Hernando de Soto

The New York Times | October 15, 2001

LIMA, Peru - Newspaper headlines and television anchors across the United States ask, "Who are these people who hate us so much?" We who live in the Third World and the former Soviet nations know terrorism well. The 21st century terrorists we confront are ruthless politicians with domestic ambitions. Killing innocents is but a means to an end: taking control of political power in their own countries.

But these terrorist politicians have a common problem. They are small minorities in their own countries. To take power, they need to swell their ranks, and in the developing world, the overwhelming majority of people are poor. The difficulty is that for the past 30 years the poor in most places have been more interested in becoming entrepreneurs than revolutionaries. To improve their lives, they have migrated by the millions to the cities. You can see these migrants in the streets of the Middle East or Asia, selling what they manufacture in their shanties, from carpets and books to tools and engines.

Imagine a country where the law that governs property rights is so deficient that nobody can easily identify who owns what, addresses cannot be systematically verified, and people cannot be made to pay their debts. Consider not being able to use your own house or business to guarantee credit. Imagine a property system where you can't divide your ownership in a business into shares that investors can buy, or where descriptions of assets are not standardized.

Welcome to life in the developing world, home to five-sixths of the world's population. Their plight underlines a paradoxical reality: capitalism is seen by the West as the answer to global underdevelopment, but it hasn't even been tried because in a capitalist economy, all business deals are based on the rules of property and transactions which do not even exist in the Third World. Their property systems exclude the assets and transactions of 80% of the population, cutting off the poor from the global capitalist economy as markedly as apartheid once separated black and white South Africans.

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