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Publisher's Summary

A renowned economist's classic book on capitalism in the developing world, showing how property rights are the key to overcoming poverty.  

"The hour of capitalism's greatest triumph," writes Hernando de Soto, "is, in the eyes of four-fifths of humanity, its hour of crisis." In The Mystery of Capital, the world-famous Peruvian economist takes up one of the most pressing questions the world faces today: Why do some countries succeed at capitalism while others fail?  

In strong opposition to the popular view that success is determined by cultural differences, de Soto finds that it actually has everything to do with the legal structure of property and property rights. Every developed nation in the world at one time went through the transformation from predominantly extralegal property arrangements, such as squatting on large estates, to a formal, unified legal property system. In the West, we've forgotten that creating this system is what allowed people everywhere to leverage property into wealth. This persuasive book revolutionized our understanding of capital and points the way to a major transformation of the world economy.

©2000 Hernando de Soto (P)2019 Tantor

What listeners say about The Mystery of Capital

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    4 out of 5 stars

Thought provoking but

It was occasionally repetitive/ redundant beyond value, in my opinion and for my preference anyway.

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  • John Z
  • 2022-06-22

Gives great insight into modern web3/nft opportunities

This is one of those books that puts a finger on a concept that we all know exists, but wouldn't be able to easily put into words.

Factoring in modern tech and business landscape compared to that at time of writing (~2002), shows the global significance and opportunity of nft markets, web3, and blockchain tech as a whole.

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  • William E Carey
  • 2022-01-29

Limited use

I was disappointed because this book was of no use to me and limited use overall. The point was easily made in one chapter. A whole book was not needed.

The point of the book is why capitalism has not worked well in 3rd world or former socialist countries because there was no way to record property rights. Not just land but business and intellectual rights

Without good confirmable title, people can not get loans and leverage their “capital”. Certainly he goes into more detail but that is the basic point.

While this book may be of value to someone who works at the World Bank, or someone interested in international affairs, it doesn’t add much if any value to your typical business man in the US

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  • Nellie boi
  • 2021-05-29

Good global perspective on Capitalism

This book made me think deeper in terms of importance of capital generation, underlying societal/legal roadblocks and how it impacts wealth creation.

It ties in well with the saying - Everything that glitters is not gold or perhaps will remain or generate further gold!

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  • karl neubert
  • 2021-09-30

Very informative book

Very informative book that explains the inner workings of capitalism and why it works so well where the property system has been well integrated with society in general, ie. western countries and a few others. It explains it in a way that even those who live in such societies never think about it due to it being almost taken for granted and second nature.

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  • lisa finn
  • 2021-09-18

A way to keep the republic?!

I find the ideas and information in this book fascinating.
As an immigrant from former USSR it is disheartening for me to watch a massive move away from appreciating United States as a land of opportunity and a miracle born from American revolution. Just compare the outcome of Russian revolution to understand what I mean.

I am not an economist and simply wondering if more people in US should use the ideas in this book to assess how they can create and use private property to become financially secure. "To expand the limits of the Bell Jar."

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2021-08-27

The Mystery of Capital

Very comprehensive and requisite reading for everyone. This book unequivocally puts wealth creation in proper context.

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  • Rurik McKaiser
  • 2020-06-15

Memorable and Impactful

This is a truly wonderful must read book. The genius of Hernando De Soto oozes out of every page of this seminal work.

Do yourself a massive favour and read this book NOW!!!!

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  • MAC
  • 2019-11-01

This is a must read.

I you want to know why Capitalism works for some and not others this is your book. The author is somewhat redundant but he gives many excellent examples to provide a convincing argument on how property rights are the foundation of western success.