I just finished reading Hernando De Soto’s The Mystery of Capital. The book was great, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who cares about capitalism, globalization, development, or third world poverty. It is cliche to say that a book “challenges expectations”, but it certainly did mine, perhaps more than any book I have read. De Soto makes a very intriguing claim about third world poverty – that it is exacerbated by a clash between inflexible law and actual human practice – that has difficult ramifications for property laws in the third world.
I intend to follow up this post with a few of the more tangential thoughts I had while reading. For a very powerful elaboration of the main argument (bad laws create extralegality, which exacerbates poverty) get the book!