I’m off on Thursday to San Francisco to see an old friend get a well deserved prize. Hernando de Soto will receive the second Biennial Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. (I met Hernando in Moscow in 1989 and was greatly impressed by what a powerful champion of liberty he is.) His Institute for Liberty and Democracy has done a great deal to provide to the world’s poor the benefits of law, liberty, and property.
His book The Mystery of Capital I consider one of the most interesting books of the past decade. Not only does it provide information that was not widely available before, but it asks new questions that had not occurred to others. Many people have explained how important property is to liberty and development. But few had asked why some countries enjoy legal systems that provide well defined and secure systems of property, while others do not. I strongly recommend de Soto’s books to anyone interested in the deeper questions of legal and economic development.