Re: BOOK: The Mystery of Capital

From: Brian D Williams (
Date: Fri Oct 19 2001 - 07:42:27 MDT

>From: "J. R. Molloy" <>

>So they need deeds, titles, and corporate law, otherwise they're
>not playing for keeps. Alright, that makes sense. It's not enough
>to use money, they also need to use a whole new memeplex. Well,
>don't forget that the West had to go through a bunch of
>revolutions (French, American, Renaisance, etc.) to get where it
>is today. We should expect no less trauma in bringing the Balkans
>into 21st century capitalism. China is still working on the
>remnants of its "cultural revolution" and is predicted by some to
>become the next economic super power, but other parts of the far
>East are capitalist tigers already(Singapore, Taiwan, Japan,
>etc.), so if they can do it, then so can the Balkans. Did de Soto
>forget that it's not just "the West" that is prospering with
>capitalism? India's on the verge of taking the plunge too.

The theme of De Soto's book is that even in the west we forgot how
capitalism evolved. Countries try to adopt the end result without
having in place the necessary infrastructure.

De Soto went back in history to study the evolution of the American
economic system. He draws parallels between the very same problems
experienced by newly formed free market societies and early

He then attempts to show what is necessary to go from where they
are to where they want to be. It is nothing short of revolutionary.

I bet this guy wins a Nobel prize.

>How 'bout China? Not taking off? What do you want... everything at
>Wal Mart is made in China.

One of the reasons I don't shop Wal-Mart. De Soto has mentioned
both India and China (I'm 25% into the book) but has already
pointed out significant problems with both.

>>de Soto sez:
>>They have adopted superficial products of capitalist society, but
>>not the "representational forms" underlying capitalist societies
>>and freeing capital in a "vast hidden process that connects all
>>the assets to the rest of the economy" and gives them a "parallel
>>life in the creation of new assets."

>.... and that's Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails
>Everywhere Else?

Yep, and makes a damn good case for it.

>>Yes, de Soto continuz:
>>the real problem is that such countries have yet to establish and
>>normalize the invisible network of laws that turns assets from
>>"dead" into "liquid" capital. In the West, standardized laws
>>allow us to mortgage a house to raise money for a new venture,
>>permit the worth of a company to be broken up into so many
>>publicly tradable stocks, and make it possible to govern and
>>appraise property with agreed-upon rules that hold across
>>neighborhoods, towns, or
>>regions. This invisible infrastructure of "asset management"--so
>>taken for granted in the West, even though it has only fully
>>existed in the United States for the past 100 years--is the
>>missing ingredient to success with capitalism, insists de Soto.
>>But even though that link is primarily a legal one, he argues
>>that the process of making it a normalized component of a society
>>is more a political--or attitude-changing--challenge than
>>anything else.>>

>So, the answer is: Everyone needs to own their own home. Then
>they'll have a stake in the welfare of their communities. Big
>deal... any Real Estate Principles teacher could have told us
>that. Why do you think State governments provide low interest
>loans (VA, graduated mortgage, Cal-Vet, FHA, RECD, etc.) to
>potential home buyers? That's right, to encourage home ownership.

Its a great deal more complex than that, you've oversimplified what
he is saying. As he points out bureaucracy makes it almost
impossible to own your own home/land/company in many countries much
less use it as an economic asset.

>All we need to understand (and teach formerly communist countries)
>for. capitalist success is "asset management." It's something that
>way too few Americans understand, which is why too many young
>Americans suffer the consequences of enormous credit card debt.
>(The US economy isn't as healthy as your stock broker would like
>you to believe either.)

I agree that everyone needs to learn this, but this is not the
whole answer as I believe De Soto correctly points out.

Without the infrastructure, asset management as we practice it here
in the west isn't possible in these countries.

I really think you'd enjoy the book, I'm damn sorry I wasn't
introduced to it at Extro-5. (Damn I hated missing that!)


Extropy Institute,
National Rifle Association,, 1.800.672.3888
SBC/Ameritech Data Center Chicago, IL, Local 134 I.B.E.W

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat May 11 2002 - 17:44:14 MDT