Saturday, January 07, 2006

Capital Capital Capital

I just finished reading Hernando de Soto's The Mystery of Capital. The first few chapters are interesting, but then you realize that he's saying the same thing over and over and over. Yes, you've convinced me that the extralegal sector is large and undercapitalized. Yes, and certain legal property rights reforms will allow the poor to use there assets as capital. Yes, this is an immensely good thing. Now end the book already!! It's unfortunate because I think there was some interesting material in the last chapter, but I just skimmed it.

Now I have started to read Jeff Sachs' The End of Poverty as Isaac already has. (Though I may be shelving it for a moment to read something else.) Both books are nominally about ending poverty, but it's clear that de Soto and Sachs are taking about different impoverished people. Capitalization of property will not help the extremely poor. Because they have no assets. In fact it's hard to imagine anything that will help them except food and medicine. But I haven't read very far...

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