Hernando de Soto Polar
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|Hernando de Soto Polar|
June 3, 1941 |
|Field||The economics of the informal sector,
research in property rights theory
Hernando de Soto Polar (or Hernando de Soto; born 1941) is a Peruvian economist known for his work on the informal economy and on the importance of business and property rights. He is the president of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD), located in Lima, Peru.
- 1 Childhood and education
- 2 Reforms in Peru and elsewhere
- 3 Main thesis
- 4 Work and Research
- 5 Blockchain Work
- 6 Praise for work
- 7 Prizes
- 8 Criticism and responses
- 9 Publications
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Childhood and education
Hernando de Soto was born on 2 June 1941 in Arequipa, Peru. His father was a Peruvian diplomat . After the 1948 military coup in Peru, his father chose exile in Europe, taking his wife and two young sons with him. De Soto was educated in Switzerland, where he attended the International School of Geneva and then did post-graduate work at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. He later worked as an economist, corporate executive and consultant. He returned to Peru at the age of 38. His younger brother Álvaro served in the Peruvian diplomatic corps in Lima, New York and Geneva and was seconded to United Nations in 1982. He retired from the U.N. in 2007 with the title rank of Assistant Under-Secretary-General; his last position was as the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. He is well known as an international adviser.
Reforms in Peru and elsewhere
Between 1988 and 1995, he and the Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD) were mainly responsible for some four hundred initiatives, laws, and regulations that led to significant changes in Peru's economic system.
In particular, ILD designed the administrative reform of Peru's property system which has given titles to an estimated 1.2 million families and helped some 380,000 firms, which previously operated in the black market, to enter the formal economy. This latter task was accomplished through the elimination of bureaucratic "red-tape" and of restrictive registration, licensing and permit laws, which made the opening of new businesses very time-consuming and costly.
Yale University political scientist Susan C. Stokes believe that de Soto's influence helped change the policies of Alberto Fujimori from a Keynesian to a neoliberal approach. De Soto convinced then-president Fujimori to travel to New York City, where they met with Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Barber Conable, Enrique V. Iglesias (the heads of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the Inter-American Development Bank), who convinced him to follow the guidelines for economic policy set by the international financial institutions. These policies led to a reduction in the rate of inflation.
The Cato Institute and The Economist magazine have argued that de Soto's policy prescriptions brought him into conflict with and eventually helped to undermine the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) guerrilla movement. By granting titles to small coca farmers in the two main coca-growing areas, they argued that the Shining Path was deprived of safe havens, recruits and money, and the leadership was forced to cities where they were arrested. A large terrorist attack was launched against the ILD and de Soto in light of the statements by Shining Path leader Abimael Guzman who saw ILD as a serious threat.
After the split with Fujimori, he and his institute designed similar programs in El Salvador, Haiti, Tanzania, and Egypt and has gained favor with the World Bank, the World Bank-allied international NGO Slum Dwellers International and the government of South Africa.
Since its work in Peru in the 1980s, his institute, the ILD, has worked in dozens of countries. Heads of state in over 35 countries have sought the ILD's services to discuss how ILD's theories on property rights could potentially improve their economies.
The impact of de Soto's institute in the field of development—on political leaders, experts and multi-lateral organizations—is widespread and acknowledged. For example:
- The ILD's institutional reform program has attracted the interest of strategically key nations concerned with internal conflict and terrorism.
- The ILD has designed successful reforms that have inspired major initiatives in former client countries such as Egypt, the Philippines, Honduras and Tanzania.
- The ILD is recognized as the world authority in understanding extralegal economies, influencing the protocols of large multilateral organizations by helping them to understand the realities that the poor and the excluded face, day to day. These include institutions such as the Commission for Legal Empowerment of the Poor, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), USAID and the World Bank.
In 2009, the ILD turned its attention back to Peru and the plight of the indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Amazon jungle. In response to Peru's President García's call to all Peruvians to present their proposals toward solving the problems leading to the bloody incidents in Bagua, the ILD has assessed the situation and presented its preliminary findings. ILD has published a short videotaped documentary, The Mystery of Capital among the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon, summarizing its findings from indigenous communities in Alaska, Canada and the Peruvian jungle.
The main message of de Soto's work and writings is that no nation can have a strong market economy without adequate participation in an information framework that records ownership of property and other economic information. Unreported, unrecorded economic activity results in many small entrepreneurs who lack legal ownership of their property, making it difficult for them to obtain credit, sell the business, or expand. They cannot seek legal remedies to business conflicts in court, since they do not have legal ownership. Lack of information on income prevents governments from collecting taxes and acting for the public welfare.
The existence of such massive exclusion generates two parallel economies, legal and extra legal. An elite minority enjoys the economic benefits of the law and globalization, while the majority of entrepreneurs are stuck in poverty, where their assets—adding up to more than US$10 trillion worldwide—languish as dead capital in the shadows of the law.
To survive, to protect their assets, and to do as much business as possible, the extralegals create their own rules. But because these local arrangements are full of shortcomings and are not easily enforceable, the extralegals also create their own social, political and economic problems that affect the society at large.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, responsible nations around the developing world have worked hard to make the transition to a market economy, but have in general failed. Populist leaders have used this failure of the free market system to wipe out poverty in the developing world to beat their "anti-globalization" drums. But the ILD believes that the real enemy is within the flawed legal systems of developing nations that make it virtually impossible for the majority of their people—and their assets—to gain a stake in the market. The people of these countries have talent, enthusiasm, and an astonishing ability to wring a profit out of practically nothing`.What the poor majority in the developing world do not have is easy access to the legal system which, in the advanced nations of the world and for the elite in their countries, is the gateway to economic success, for it is in the legal system where property documents are created and standardized according to law. That documentation builds a public memory that permits society to engage in such crucial economic activities as identifying and gaining access to information about individuals, their assets, their titles, rights, charges and obligations; establishing the limits of liability for businesses; knowing an asset's previous economic situation; assuring protection of third parties; and quantifying and valuing assets and rights. These public memory mechanisms in turn facilitate such opportunities as access to credit, the establishment of systems of identification, the creation of systems for credit and insurance information, the provision for housing and infrastructure, the issue of shares, the mortgage of property and a host of other economic activities that drive a modern market economy.
Work and Research
Since 2008, De Soto has been refining his thesis about the importance of property rights to development in response to his organization’s findings that a number of new global threats have "property rights distortions" at their root. In essays, that appeared from early 2009 into 2012 in media outlets in the U.S. and Europe, De Soto argued that the reason why the U.S. and European economies were mired in recession was the result of a "knowledge crisis" not a financial one.
"Capitalism lives in two worlds," De Soto wrote in the Financial Times in January 2012. "There is the visible one of palm trees and Panamanian ships, but it is the other – made up of the property information cocooned in laws and records – that allows us to organize and understand fragments of reality and join them creatively." De Soto argued that the knowledge in those public memory systems, which "helped Capitalism triumph," was distorted over the past 15 years or so. "Until this knowledge system is repaired," he wrote, "neither US nor European capitalism will recover." 
In another series of articles that appeared in US and Europe in 2011, De Soto used the findings of ILD field research in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya to make his case for "the economic roots of the Arab Spring." The ongoing Arab revolutions, he argued, were "economic revolutions" driven mainly by the frustrations of 200 million ordinary Arabs who depended on the informal economy for their livelihoods. He pointed to the ILD’s earlier 2004 findings in Egypt, which revealed the nation’s largest employer with 92% of the property in the informal economy – assets worth almost $247 billion. Also, as proof of the extent of desperation among MENA’s entrepreneurs, he elaborated ILD’s exclusive research on Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor whose public self-immolation in protest of the expropriation of his goods and scale literally sparked the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, which spread unrest through the Arab world.
In 2014-2015, De Soto and his team have been attempting to guide the political process in Peru,as Presidential elections are due to take place in 2016, by finding solutions to the ongoing national mining crisis. De Soto has been a strong advocate for the formalisation of the informal miners that are scattered throughout Peru. Since 2014, several large national investment projects, including Las Bambas, and Tia Maria have been disrupted by violent protests by informal miners against government regulation and formal extractive industries. In July 2015, the ILD discovered that former Shining Path militants who have taken up the ecological cause were paralyzing some $70 billion in mining investment in Peru.
Furthermore, recorded video debates between the former extremists and De Soto were published on ILD’s YouTube channel and revealed that the Shining Path militants agree that property rights could be an important part of the solution to social conflicts in Peru. De Soto’s stated goal is to determine the roots of informal hostility against multinationals and identify what is needed to build a national social contract on extractive industries that could harmonize their property interests with those of multinationals as opposed to creating conflict.
De Soto Applies Thesis to Terrorism
In October 2014, De Soto published an article in the Wall Street Journal, The Capitalist Cure for Terrorism, that stated an aggressive agenda for economic empowerment was needed in the Middle East in order to defeat terrorist groups like ISIL. He argued that the U.S. should promote an agenda similar to what was successfully used in Peru to defeat the Shining Path in the 1990s. He also mentions in the article that local policymakers in the Middle East are missing the fact that if ordinary people cannot play the game legally than they will be far less able to resist a terrorist offensive. The article received praise among high-level global politicians such as US Presidential candidates Rand Paul and Jeb Bush.
Once again In January 2016, De Soto released his second article, How to Win the War on Terror, which focused on defeating terrorism through promoting strong property rights. The article was distributed by Project Syndicate and published in dozens of countries and languages, including in Switzerland by the World Economic Forum in advance of their 2016 forum.
De Soto's challenges Thomas Piketty and approaches Pope Francis
In 2014, De Soto started to refute French economist Thomas Piketty’s thesis by arguing that his recent attacks against capital in his worldwide best seller book "Capital in the 21st Century" were unjustified. His op-ed article challenging Piketty, ‘The Poor Against Piketty’ (French - Les pauvres contre Piketty) was first published in France’s news magazine Le Point in April 2015.
De Soto argued that Piketty’s statistics ignore the 90 per cent of the world population that lives in developing countries and former Soviet states, whose inhabitants produce and hold their capital in the informal sector. Furthermore, he states that his institute’s global research proves that most people actually want more rather than less capital. Finally, he argues that the wars against capital, which Piketty claims are coming, have already begun under Europe’s nose in the form of the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa. The article in English was published in The Independent under the title, ‘Why Thomas Piketty is wrong about capital in the 21st century’, in May 2015 and has since been published in over twenty countries, including in Germany’s Die Welt, Nigeria's Ventures Africa, Spain's El Pais, Eygpt's Youm 7  and Brazil's Folha de S.Paulo, Canada's Vancouver Sun  and the Miami Herald.
In February 2016, De Soto took a break from countering Piketty’s work and wrote an article addressing Pope Francis’s trip to Mexico titled, A Mexican Impasse for the Pope. The article encourages the Pope and the Vatican to address the lack of property rights among the poor in countries like Mexico as a solution to global refugee crises.
A week later, De Soto published a second article in Fortune Magazine addressing the Pope’s and US Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s public spat over building a wall on the Mexican-USA border. The article titled, What Pope Francis Should Really Say to Donald Trump, conveys five property rights related thoughts that the Pope should use to respond to Trump. The article was well received in the US and led to many different opinion articles featured in Breitbart, Investors Business Daily and Stream.
In May 2015, De Soto attended the 1st Annual Block Chain Summit hosted by British billionaire Richard Branson at his private Caribbean residence, Necker Island. De Soto was one of three moderators, along with Michael J. Casey, former Wall Street Journal senior columnist and Matthew Bishop, editor at The Economist. The goal of the event was to define a way that the world can benefit from the block chain technology behind the Bitcoin digital currency.
The work by De Soto and his institute on property rights was widely recognized at the event as being an inspiration. Co-host Bill Tai, co-founder of MaiTai Global stated that De Soto’s book The Mystery of Capital has new relevancy because of the rapid advances in software technology that enables the "sharing economy." Another co-host George Kikvadze, vice chairman of the world's leading block chain infrastructure provider, stated that the technology behind a block chain is essentially the digitization of De Soto’s book. While Jeff Garzik founder and CEO of DunveganSpace, who also attended the summit stated that De Soto was the ‘Star of the Show’.
After the summit, Michael Casey published an article in the Wall Street Journal stating that at the summit De Soto explained how block chain could apply to property rights and specifically address controversies in mineral-rich parts of Peru that would allow multinational mining companies and neighboring households, farms, indigenous communities and other forms of informal property to receive adequate compensation and live in harmony by revamping Peru’s poorly designed artisanal title registry by plugging it into block chain.
Casey also wrote an article focusing on the capability of blockchain technology holds to bring De Soto’s lifelong work of documenting the property rights of the poor to reality. The article was originally published in Techonomy magazine November 24, 2015 and later re-published by the World Economic Forum in March 2016.
De Soto was also a main speaker at the BitFury Group's second Blockchain Summit on October 7-10th, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. During the summit, De Soto presented a property application of Bitcoin to his Royal Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarek al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates and several financial authorities of Abu Dhabi.
In early April 2016, Richard Branson wrote an article on his company's website Virgin praising Hernando de Soto’s work on property rights, while saying how thankful he was to meet De Soto at the 2015 summit.
The 2016 Blockchain summit took place from June 3–7 but De Soto could not attend in person due to the Peruvian elections, however he participated and delivered a presentation via video conference.
Praise for work
Since the publication of The Mystery of Capital in 2000 and subsequent translations, his ideas have become increasingly influential in the field of development economics.
Time magazine chose De Soto as one of the five leading Latin American innovators of the century in its special May 1999 issue "Leaders of the New Millennium", and included him among the 100 most influential people in the world in 2004. De Soto was also listed as one of the 15 innovators "who will reinvent your future" according to Forbes magazine's 85th anniversary edition. In January 2000, Entwicklung und Zusammenarbeit, the German development magazine, described De Soto as one of the most important development theoreticians. In October 2005, over 20,000 readers of Prospect magazine of the UK and Foreign Policy magazine of the U.S. ranked him as number 13 on the joint survey of the world's Top 100 Public Intellectuals Poll.
U.S. presidents from both major parties have praised De Soto's work. Bill Clinton, for example, called him "The world's greatest living economist", George H. W. Bush declared that "De Soto's prescription offers a clear and promising alternative to economic stagnation…" Bush's predecessor, Ronald Reagan said, "De Soto and his colleagues have examined the only ladder for upward mobility. The free market is the other path to development and the one true path. It is the people's path… it leads somewhere. It works." His work has also received praise from two United Nations secretaries general Kofi Annan – "Hernando de Soto is absolutely right, that we need to rethink how we capture economic growth and development" – and Javier Pérez de Cuéllar – "A crucial contribution. A new proposal for change that is valid for the whole world."
Among the prizes he has received are:
- The Freedom Prize (Switzerland)
- The Fisher Prize (United Kingdom)
- the Goldwater Award (USA)
- Adam Smith Award from the Association of Private Enterprise Education (USA)
- The CARE Canada Award for Outstanding Development Thinking (Canada)
- received the Downey Fellowship at Yale University
- the Democracy Hall of Fame International Award from the National Graduate University (USA)
- an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Buckingham (United Kingdom),
- The Americas Award (USA)
- named the Most Outstanding of 2004 for Economic Development at Home and Abroad by the Peruvian National Assembly of Rectors
- received the Prize of Deutsche Stiftung Eigentum for exceptional contributions to the theory of property rights
- the 2004 IPAE Award by the Peruvian Institute of Business Administration
- the Academy of Achievement's Golden Plate Award 2005 (USA) in tribute to his outstanding accomplishments
- the BearingPoint, Forbes magazine's seventh Compass Award for Strategic Direction
- was named as a "Fellow of the Class of 1930" by Dartmouth College.
- The Poder BCG Business Awards 2007, granted by Poder Magazine and the Boston Consulting Group, for the "Best Anti-Poverty Initiative"
- the anthology Die Zwölf Wichtigsten Ökonomen der Welt (The World's Twelve Most Influential Economists, 2007), included a profile of de Soto among a list that begins with Adam Smith and includes such recent winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics as Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen.
- the 2007 Humanitarian Award in recognition of his work to help poor people participate in the market economy.
- Honorary patron of the University Philosophical Society of Trinity College (Ireland) for having excelled in public life and made a worthy contribution to society.
- the inaugural Hernando de Soto Award for Democracy awarded by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) in recognition of his extraordinary achievements in furthering economic freedom in Peru and throughout the developing world.
- the Hayek Medal for his theories on liberal development policy ("market economy from below") and for the appropriate implementation of his concepts by two Peruvian presidents.
- the Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Cabinet (Council of Ministers) in recognition of his contribution toward the betterment of humankind and having worked for the future of the earth through his commitment.
- to receive 2016 Brigham-Kanner Property Rights Prize from William & Mary Law School in October 2016.
World Justice Project
Hernando de Soto serves as an honorary co-chair for the World Justice Project. The World Justice Project works to lead a global, multidisciplinary effort to strengthen the rule of law for the development of communities of opportunity and equity.
Criticism and responses
De Soto has never hidden his strong desire to bring inclusive market economies to the developing and post-Soviet world. He has been a relentless exponent of his ideas and the ILD’s work, averaging several articles a year and scores of speeches and presentations. Thus, it is hardly surprising that de Soto’s ideas have stirred up criticism.
For his part, de Soto has never shied away from controversy. A skilled public speaker, he has debated his views with such eminent academic economists as Jeffrey Sachs, Jagdish Baghwati and Paul Collier. During the second annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in 2006, he appeared in special panel discussing "Effective Action, Lasting Results" for fighting poverty – with former President Bill Clinton, Bill Gates and Fernando Cardoso, the former President of Brazil. In 2011, as part of Vaclav Havel’s annual Forum 2000 conference in Prague, De Soto debated Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz on "The Rule of Law and Economic Growth." 
Over the last decades, property rights literature has voiced diverse views on the effect of the titling of land. De Soto has been criticized by some academics for methodological and analytical reasons, while some activists have accused him of just wanting to be a representative figure of the prioritizing property rights movement. Some state that his theory does not offer anything new compared to traditional land reform. "De Soto’s proposal is not wealth transfer, but wealth legalization. The poor of the world already possess trillions in assets now. De Soto is not distributing capital to anyone. By making them liquid, everyone’s capital pool grows dramatically". While analysing Schaefer’s arguments, Roy writes, "de Soto’s ideas are seductive precisely because they only guarantee the latter, but in doing so promise the former".
What differentiates de Soto from his predecessor is his attempt to include non-agricultural land in the scheme of reform and emphasizing in formalization of existing informal possession. His emphasis on title formalization as the only reason behind economic growth in the United States has been subject to criticism. Property formalization in America may have happened as a result of different reasons including establishment of law and order, increased state control, greater institutional integration, increased economic efficiency, increased tax revenue, and greater equality.() The argument for private and often individualist property regime comes under the question of societal legitimacy, may not be justified even if de Soto eyes bringing an unified system in a state or unification with the global economy.
In his 'Planet of Slums' Mike Davis argues that de Soto, who Davis calls 'the global guru of neo-liberal populism', is essentially promoting what the statist left in South America and India has always promoted—individual land titling. Davis argues that titling is the incorporation into the formal economy of cities, which benefits more wealthy squatters but is disastrous for poorer squatters, and especially tenants who simply cannot afford incorporation into the fully commodified formal economy.
Grassroots controlled and directed shack dwellers movements like Abahlali baseMjondolo in South Africa and the Homeless Workers' Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto – MTST) in Brazil have strenuously argued against individual titling and for communal and democratic systems of collective land tenure because this offers protection to the poorest and prevents 'downward raiding' in which richer people displace squatters once their neighborhoods are formalized.
An article by Madeleine Bunting for The Guardian (UK) claimed that de Soto's suggestions would in some circumstances cause more harm than benefit, and referred to The Mystery of Capital as "an elaborate smokescreen" used to obscure the issue of the power of the globalized elite. She cited de Soto's employment history as evidence of his bias in favor of the powerful. Reporter John Gravois also criticized de Soto for his ties to power circles, exemplified by his attendance at the Davos World Economic Forum. In response, de Soto told Gravois that this proximity to power would help de Soto educate the elites about poverty. Ivan Osorio of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has refuted Gravois's allegations pointing out how Gravois has misinterpreted many of de Soto's recommendations.
Robert J. Samuelson has argued against what he sees as de Soto's "single bullet" approach and has argued for a greater emphasis on culture and how local conditions affect people's perceptions of their opportunities. UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, has questioned the insistence on titling as a means to protect security of tenure based on the risk that titling will undermine customary forms of tenure and insufficiently protect the rights of land users that depend on the commons, as well as the fear that titling schemes may lead to further reconcentration of land ownership, unless strong support is provided to smallholders.
In the World Development journal, a 1990 article by R. G. Rossini and J. J. Thomas of the London School of Economics questioned the statistical basis of de Soto's claims about the size of the informal economy in his first book The Other Path. However, the ILD pointed out, in the same journal, that Rossini and Thomas’ observations "neither [addressed] the central theme of the book, nor [did it address] the main body of quantitative evidence displayed to substantiate the importance of economic and legal barriers that give rise to informal activities. Instead, [they focused] exclusively on four empirical estimates that the book [mentioned] only in passing".
In the Journal of Economic Literature, Christopher Woodruff of the University of California, San Diego criticized de Soto for overestimating the amount of wealth that land titling now informally owned property could unlock, and argues that "de Soto's own experience in Peru suggests that land titling by itself is not likely to have much effect. Titling must be followed by a series of politically challenging steps. Improving the efficiency of judicial systems, rewriting bankruptcy codes, restructuring financial market regulations, and similar reforms will involve much more difficult choices by policymakers."
This criticism is viewed by some (such as Ivan Osorio) to misjudge de Soto's published opinions. His book Mystery of Capital devotes the majority of its contents to the theory that legal reform is by far the most significant element of property reform.
Roy Culpepper notes that it is often very difficult to establish who owns what among the poor. He also notes that the titling is biased against those who are completely landless and propertyless.
Legal scholar Jonathan Manders has argued that de Soto's vision of property rights reform is correct, but that the sequencing of proposed reforms will affect their sustainability over the long term.
Empirical studies by Argentine economists Sebastian Galiani and Ernesto Schargrodsky have taken issue with de Soto's link between titling and the increase in credit to the poor, but have also pointed out that families with titles "substantially increased housing investment, reduced household size, and improved the education of their children relative to the control group". A study commissioned by DFID, an agency of the U.K. government, further summarized many of the complications arising from implementing de Soto's policy recommendations when insufficient attention is paid to the local social context.
There are many explanations regarding how and what in capitalism causes growth, according to de Soto. In an interview with The Economist, he emphasizes the primary role of institutions, and points to successful examples of developed countries that reformed their legal system in defense of his property rights-oriented policy recommendations. De Soto's conclusions have inspired other work on microcredit, and the importance of property and business rights. For instance, the World Bank's popular "Doing Business" series (launched in 2004) that provides data for over 175 countries worldwide on opening and closing businesses, obtaining credit, labor laws, and fulfilling contract and property rights, was inspired by the ILD's.
De Soto himself has often pointed out that his critics mistakenly claim that he advocates land titling by itself as sufficient for effective development: For example, in the ILD's new brochure he is quoted as saying, "The ILD is not just about titling. What we do is help Governments build a system of public memory that legally identifies all their people, their assets, their business records and their transactions in such a way that they can unleash their economic potential. No economy can develop and prosper without the benefits that clearly registered public documents bestow."
On January 31, 2012, de Soto and his publisher were fined by the Peruvian intellectual property rights organization INDECOPI for excluding the names of co-authors, Enrique Ghersi and Mario Ghibellini, on newer editions of his 1986 book The Other Path.
De Soto has published two books about economic development: The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World in 1986 in Spanish (with a new edition in 2002 titled The Other Path, The Economic Answer to Terrorism) and in 2000, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else (ISBN 978-0465016150). Both books have been international bestsellers, translated into some 30 languages.
The original Spanish-language title of The Other Path is El Otro Sendero, an allusion to de Soto's alternative proposals for development in Peru, countering the attempts of the "Shining Path" ("Sendero Luminoso") to win the support of Peru's poor. Based on five years worth of ILD research into the causes of massive informality and legal exclusion in Peru, the book was also a direct intellectual challenge to the Shining Path, offering to the poor of Peru not the violent overthrow of the system but "the other path" out of poverty, through legal reform. In response, the Senderistas added de Soto to their assassination list, In July 1992, the terrorists sent a second car bomb into ILD headquarters in Lima, killing 3 and wounding 19.
In addition, he has written, with Francis Cheneval, Swiss Human Rights Book Volume 1: Realizing Property Rights, published in 2006 – a collection of papers presented at an international symposium in Switzerland in 2006 on the urgency of property rights in impoverished countries for small business owners, women, and other fragile human groups, such as the poor and political refugees. The book includes a paper on the ILD's work in Tanzania delivered by Hernando de Soto.
- De Soto, Hernando. The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World. Harpercollins, 1989. ISBN 0-06-016020-9
- De Soto, Hernando. The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. Basic Books, 2000. ISBN 0-465-01614-6
- De Soto, Hernando. The Other Path: The Economic Answer to Terrorism. Basic Books, 2002. ISBN 0-465-01610-3
- De Soto, Hernando and Francis Cheneval. Swiss Human Rights Book Volume 1: Realizing Property Rights, 2006. ISBN 978-3-907625-25-5
- Smith, Barry et al. (eds.). The Mystery of Capital and the Construction of Social Reality, Chicago: Open Court, 2008. ISBN 0-8126-9615-8
Over the years, De Soto has also published a number of articles on the importance of inclusive property and business rights, legally empowering the poor, and the causes of the global financial crisis of 2008–09 in leading newspapers and magazines around the world. In 2001, Time magazine published "The Secret of Non-Success," the New York Times ran his post-September 11 op-ed essay "The Constituency of Terror," and the IMF's Finance & Development magazine published "The Mystery of Capital", a condensed version of the third chapter of his eponymous book. In 2007, Time magazine published "Giving the Poor their Rights", an article written with former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, on the legal empowerment of the poor. In 2009, Newsweek International published his essay on the financial crisis, "Toxic Paper" – along with an on-line interview with him, "Slumdogs and Millionaires." That was soon followed by two more articles on the crisis, in the Wall Street Journal ("Toxic Assets Were Hidden Assets") and The Los Angeles Times ("Global Meltdown Rule #1: Do the Math"). Versions of these articles also appeared in newspapers in France, Switzerland, Germany and Latin America. In 2011, Bloomberg published "The Destruction of Economic Facts", and The Washington Post recently ran "The cost of financial ignorance". When protests began in Cairo at the beginning of 2011, The Wall Street Journal published De Soto's "Egypt's Economic Apartheid", and Financial Times later published "The free-market secret of the Arab Revolution".
- "Why Capitalism Works in the West but Not Elsewhere", International Herald Tribune, 5 January 2001.
- "The Mystery of Capital", Finance & Development, March 2001, Volume 38, Number 1.
- "The Secret of Non-Success", Time magazine, 16 April 2001.
- "The Constituency of Terror", The New York Times, 15 October 2001.
- "Push Property Rights", The Washington Post, 6 January 2002.
- "Law and Property Outside the West: A Few New Ideas About Fighting Poverty", Optima Special Issue on Sustainable Development. Vol. 48 No. 1, September 2002, pp 2–9.
- "Law and Property Outside the West: A Few New Ideas About Fighting Poverty", NUPI. December 2002, pp. 349–61.
- "Law and Property Outside the West: A Few New Ideas About Fighting Poverty". In Marc A. Miles (ed.) The Road to Prosperity: The 21st Century Approach to Economic Development. Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation, 99–119. 2004
- "What if you can't prove you had a house?", International Herald Tribune/New York Times, 20 January 2006.
- "Toxic Paper", Newsweek, 21 Feb. 2009.
- "De Soto: la recesión tiene origen legal, no financiero", El Comercio, 3 March 2009 
- "Toxic Assets Were Hidden Assets", The Wall Street Journal, 25 March 2009
- "Crise financière: une crise… du papier", Le Figaro, 27 March 2009
- "Global Meltdown Rule No. 1: Do the math", Los Angeles Times, 12 April 2009.
- "Staying in the dark about derivatives will bring economic collapse", QFinance, 29 October 2010
- "La Amazonía no es Avatar", El Comercio, 5 June 2010
- "Egypt’s Economic Apartheid", The Wall Street Journal, 3 February 2011
- "The Destruction of Economic Facts", Bloomberg Businessweek, 28 April 2011
- "The cost of financial ignorance", The Washington Post, 7 October 2011
- "The free-market secret of the Arab revolution", Financial Times, 8 November 2011
- "The Secret to Reviving the Arab Spring's Promise: Property Rights", The Wall Street Journal, 26 February 2013 
- "Understanding formalisation and its benefits – for all Egyptians", Egypt Daily News, 25 June 2014 
- "The Capital Cure for Terrorism", The Wall Street Journal, 10 October 2014 
- "What Piketty Gets Wrong About the Third World", The Huffington Post, 25 February 2015 
- "Why Thomas Piketty is wrong about capital in the 21st century", The Independent, 15 May 2015 
- "This is How We Win The War on Terror", World Economic Forum, 15 February 2016 
- "A Mexican Impasse for the Pope", Project Syndicate, 11 February 2016 
- "What Pope Francis Should Really Say to Donald Trump", Fortune Magazine, 25 February 2016 
- The Other Path: The Economic Answer to Terrorism
- Contributions to liberal theory
- Dependency theory
- Institute for Liberty and Democracy, "Hernando de Soto – Detailed Bio". (accessed 16 March 2013)
- Source: Investors Business Daily, Monday November 6, 2006. p. A4. Leaders & Success. Article by IBD Reinhardt Kraus.
- (PDF) http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Guardian/documents/2007/06/12/DeSotoReport.pdf. Retrieved 31 August 2015. Missing or empty
- The Globalist | Biography of Hernando de Soto
- 2004–2005 Frank Porter Graham Lecture
- Stokes, Susan. "Are Parties What's Wrong with Democracy in Latin America?" (PDF). Plataforma Democratica. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
- The Cato Institute: Hernando de Soto
- "The economist versus the terrorist". The Economist. 30 January 2003.
- De Soto, Hernando. The Other Path: The Economic Answer to Terrorism. 2002
- Enrique Escalante, Edwar. "Peru: The Mystery of Capital among the Indigenous People of the Amazon". Hacer Latin America. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
- "The Destruction of Economic Facts", by Hernando de Soto. April 28, 2010. Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Accessed online May 2, 2011 
- de Soto, Hernando. 2000. The Mystery of Capital. UK: Black Swan.
- de Soto 2000, 1
- Barry Smith, ""Searle and De Soto: The New Ontology of the Social World", in Barry Smith, David Mark and Isaac Ehrlich (eds.), The Mystery of Capital and the Construction of Social Reality, Chicago: Open Court, 2008, 35–51.
- Institute for Liberty and Democracy, The ILD's war against exclusion, p. 19. 2009
- Sheridan, Barrett. "Economy: Slumdogs vs. Wall Street Millionaires". Newsweek. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
- "The Destruction of Economic Facts". Bloomberg Business. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
- "Toxic Assets Were Hidden Assets". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
- "What if you can't prove you had a house?". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
- "The Knowledge Crisis Strategy". ild.org.pe. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
- "Knowledge lies at the heart over western capitalism". Financial Times. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
- "Knowledge lies at the heart of western capitalism". Financial Times. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
- "The Secret to Reviving the Arab Spring's Promise: Property Rights". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
- "The free market secret of the Arab revolution". Financial Times. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
- "The real Mohamed Bouazizi". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
- "The Economic Roots of the Arab Spring". Council of foreign relations. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
- "The Real Mohamed Bouazizi". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
- "Economic Inclusion, Democracy, and the Arab Spring". CIPE Development. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
- "Arab Spring unrest was ignited by entrepreneurs facing constraints: Economist". Daily News Egypt. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
- "Hernando de Soto refuted the theories of Thomas Piketty". El Comercio Portfolio. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
- "Why Thomas Piketty is wrong about capital in the 21st century". The Independent. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
- Canoy, Marcel. "Why De Soto owns Piketty". Retrieved 31 July 2015.
- "Die Armen der Welt sind viel reicher als gedacht". Die Welt. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
- "The Poor Against Piketty". Venture Africa. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
- "Los pobres frente a Piketty". El Pais. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
- Youm 7 http://www.youm7.com/story/2015/5/3/90-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%B3%D9%83%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85-%D9%8A%D8%AD%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%B8%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%A3%D9%85%D9%88%D9%84%D9%87%D9%85-%D8%A8%D8%B9%D9%8A%D8%AF%D8%A7-%D8%B9%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%AD%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D8%B3%D9%85%D9%8A/2165688#.Vb6QdpNVikq. Retrieved 2 August 2015. Missing or empty
- "The poor against Piketty". Folha. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
- De Soto, Hernando. "Opinion: The poor against Piketty", The Vancouver Sun, 7 August 2015
- De Soto, Hernando. "Hernando De Soto dissects Thomas Piketty’s apocalyptic political thesis", The Miami Herald, 1 August 2015
- The 2004 Time 100
- Hans-Heinrich Bass und Markus Wauschkuhn: Hernando de Soto – die Legalisierung des Faktischen, in: E+Z Entwicklung und Zusammenarbeit, 2000, Nr. 1, S. 15–18.
- The University of North Carolina news release
- Source for President George H. W. Bush's remarks: Text of Remarks by the President to the World Bank/International Monetary Fund Annual Meeting, 27 September 1989, announcing NAFTA. Press release.
- The Cato Institute
- Annan, Kofi. Transcript of Press Conference By Secretary-General Kofi Annan at International Labour Organization, Geneva, 16 July 2001
- Transworld Publishers
- Bradley Foundation – Prizes
- "The Economist's Innovation Awards", The Economist, Nov 9, 2006 – subscription required
- Highlights of CIPE's 25th Year
- "About". Retrieved 2010-02-23.
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- "Hernando de Soto speaks at The Clinton Global Initiative (December 9, 2013)". Retrieved 31 August 2015.
- "Hernando de Soto debate's Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz". Retrieved 31 August 2015.
- Bruce, J., Migot-Adholla, S. (Eds.), 1994. Searching for Land Tenure Security in Africa. Kendall Hunt, Dubuque.
- Sjaastada, Espen and Ben Cousins. 2008. "Formalisation of Land Rights In the South: An Overview." Land Use Policy 26: 1–9
- Gilbert, Alan. 2002. On the mystery of capital and the myths of Hernando de Soto. What difference does legal title make? International Development Planning Review 24 (1) 1–19.
- Pinckney, T.C. and P.K. Kimuyu. 1994. "Land Tenure Reform in East Africa: Good, Bad or Unimportant?" Journal of African Economies 3 (1): 1–28.
- Platteau, J.-P. 1996. "The Evolutionary Theory of Land Rights as Applied To Sub-Saharan Africa: A Critical Assessment." Development and Change 27 (1): 29–85.
- Deininger, Klaus. 2003. Land Policies for Growth and Poverty Reduction. Washington, DC: World Bank.
- Dey Biswas, Sattwick. 2014. Land Rights Formalization in India; Examining de Soto through the lens of Rawls theory of justice. FLOOR Working paper 18
- Roy, Dayabati. 2013. Rural Politics in India: Political Stratification and Governance in West Bengal. Cambridge University Press, pp 152
- Sjaastada, Espen and Ben Cousins. 2008. "Formalisation of Land Rights In the South: An Overview." Land Use Policy 26: 1–9.
- Madrick, Jeff. 2001. The Charms of Property. The New York Review of Books
- Mike Davis, Planet of Slums, Verso, 2006 pp. 79–82
- MTST – Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto
- Brazil's Landless Workers Movement
- Bunting, Madeleine (11 September 2000). "Fine words, flawed ideas". The Guardian.
- Osorio, Ivan. Will the Real Hernando de Soto Please Stand Up?, originally published as Osorio Op-ed in Tech Central Station, February 2, 2005
- Samuelson, Robert J (January–February 2001). "The Spirit of Capitalism". Foreign Affairs. Archived from the original on 12 March 2008.
- Rossini, R. G. and J. J. Thomas. "The size of the informal sector in Peru: A critical comment on Hernando de Soto's El Otro Sendero", in World Development, Volume 18, Issue 1, January 1990, pp. 125–35.
- Instituto Libertad y Democracia Lima Peru. "A reply", in World Development, Volume 18, Issue 1, January 1990, pp. 137–45.
- Woodruff, Christopher. Review: Review of de Soto's "The Mystery of Capital", Journal of Economic Literature, Vol. 39, No. 4 (Dec., 2001), pp. 1215–23
- Clift, Jeremy. "People in Economics: Hernando de Soto" – Finance & Development – December 2003.
- Manders, Jonathan. Sequencing Property Rights in the Context of Development: A Critique of the Writings of Hernando De Soto, 37 CORNELL INT’L L.J. 177 (2004).
- Galiani, Sebastian and Ernesto Schargrodsky. Property Rights for the Poor: Effects of Land Titling – Ronald Coase Institute, Working Paper Series, revised January 2009,
- Daley, Elizabeth and Mary Hobley. Land: Changing Contexts, Changing Relationships, Changing Rights (for DFID's Urban-Rural Change Team) September 2005
- Home – Doing Business – The World Bank Group
- Institute for Liberty and Democracy, The ILD's war against exclusion, p. 21. 2009
- "Perú: Condenan por infracción a derecho moral de paternidad a economista Hernando de Soto". IP Tango: weblog for intellectual property law and practice for Latin America. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
- De Soto, Hernando and Francis Cheneval. Swiss Human Rights Book Volume 1: Realizing Property Rights, 2006.
- De Soto, Hernando. "The Secret of Non-Success", Time magazine, 16 April 2001 – published in New horizons for foreign direct investment, Issue 548 – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development,Global Forum on International Investment
- De Soto, Hernando. "The Constituency of Terror", The New York Times, 15 October 2001.
- De Soto, Hernando. "The Mystery of Capital", in Finance & Development, March 2001
- De Soto, Hernando. "Toxic Paper", Newsweek, 21 Feb. 2009.
- Sheridan, Barrett . "Slumdogs vs. Millionaires", Newsweek, 20 Feb. 2009.
- De Soto, Hernando. "Toxic Assets Were Hidden Assets", The Wall Street Journal, 25 March 2009
- De Soto, Hernando. "Global Meltdown Rule No. 1: Do the math", Los Angeles Times, 12 April 2009
- De Soto, Hernando. "The Destruction of Economic Facts", Bloomberg Businessweek, 28 April 2011
- De Soto, Hernando. "The cost of financial ignorance", The Washington Post, 7 October 2011
- De Soto, Hernando. "Egypt’s Economic Apartheid", The Wall Street Journal, 3 February 2011
- De Soto, Hernando. "The free-market secret of the Arab Revolution", Financial Times, 8 November 2011
- De Soto, Hernando. in "PERU Push Property Rights." The Washington Post. 2002. HighBeam Research. (January 8, 2010).
- De Soto, Hernando. "Law and Property Outside the West: A Few New Ideas About Fighting Poverty", NUPI. December 2002, pp. 349–61.
- De Soto, Hernando. "What if you can't prove you had a house?", International Herald Tribune/New York Times, 20 January 2006.
- De Soto, Hernando. "The Secret to Reviving the Arab Spring's Promise: Property Rights", The Wall Street Journal, 26 February 2013
- De Soto, Hernando. "Understanding formalisation and its benefits – for all Egyptians", Egypt Daily News, 25 June 2014
- De Soto, Hernando. "The Capital Cure for Terrorism", The Wall Street Journal, 10 October 2014
- De Soto, Hernando. "What Piketty Gets Wrong About the Third World", The Huffington Post, 25 February 2015
- De Soto, Hernando. "Why Thomas Piketty is wrong about capital in the 21st century", The Independent, 15 May 2015
- Institute for Liberty and Democracy official website.
- "Slumdogs vs. Millionaires", Newsweek's Barrett Sheridan interviews Hernando de Soto
- The Great Issues Forum, video of Naomi Klein, Joseph Stiglitz, and Hernando de Soto discussing the financial crisis
- "Mapping the Invisible", speech by Hernando de Soto at the 2009 ESRI International User Conference
- The Munk Debate on Foreign Aid, 2009. Stephen Lewis and Paul Collier against Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto and Dambisa Moyo, a Zambian-born critic of foreign aid.
- Afternoon of Conversation: Andrea Mitchell, Madeleine Albright, Hernando De Soto, video of conversation
- The Rule of Law – an interview with Hernando de Soto By Gustavo Wensjoe 2008
- Transcript of an interview for the PBS documentary Commanding Heights.
- A highly critical review in the British newspaper The Guardian
- An essay by Robert Samuelson in Foreign Affairs, arguing that de Soto underestimates the importance of culture
- The Power of the Poor – Documentary about de Soto's work by Free to Choose Media
- Appearances on C-SPAN