Sep 212006
 
Authors: Luci StorelliCastro

Very few economists become targets of assassination attempts. Hernando de Soto, the critically acclaimed Peruvian economist, happens to be one of them.

The Fort Collins community on Tuesday will have the rare opportunity to see why de Soto’s work in developmental economics has caused such a stir.

De Soto is set to give a lecture in the Main Ballroom of the Lory Student Center at 7:30 p.m.

Hailed by a 1999 edition of Time magazine as one of the five leading Latin American innovators of the century, de Soto has made a name for himself by advancing the theory that a lack of property rights for the poor is the ultimate source of impoverished economies.

According to de Soto, poverty does not stem from laziness or a lack of entrepreneurial genius. On the contrary, de Soto argues that the developing world is “teeming with entrepreneurs.”

However, the fruit of their labor translates to the accumulation of assets, as opposed to capital. Because their economic activities take place in the “extralegal” or informal sectors of the economy, the poor lack a title to their assets.

Subsequently, they cannot obtain collateral for credit or freely sell their assets in the market, thus removing needed incentives for embarking on entrepreneurial ventures. The so-called “dead capital” lost by denying the world’s poor property rights, de Soto calculates, is estimated at $9.3 trillion dollars – a figure forty times greater than the sum of all foreign aid given since 1945.

In working tirelessly to campaign for property rights for the poor, de Soto has written landmark books including “The Other Path” and “The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else,” as well as founded the Institute for Liberty and Democracy – which The Economist has ranked as one of the top two think tanks in the world.

Moreover, de Soto has also served as an economic advisor to different countries – leading the New York Times to comment, “To the leaders of poor countries, de Soto’s economic gospel is one of the most hopeful things they have heard in years.”

The Tuesday lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is requested for general seating. One can register online at: http://www.biz.colostate.edu/desoto/.

Staff writer Luci Storelli-Castro can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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