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Hernando de Soto is currently President of the ILD —headquartered in Lima, Peru— considered by The Economist as one of the two most important think tanks in the world.
Time magazine chose him as one of the five leading Latin American innovators of the century in its special May 1999 issue Leaders for 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 15 innovators “who will reinvent your future” according to Forbes magazine’s 85th anniversary edition. In his speech opening the 2004 World Economic Forum at Davos, former US President Bill Clinton described him as “the world’s most important living economist.”
De Soto has served as an economist for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, as President of the Executive Committee of the Copper Exporting Countries Organization (CIPEC), as CEO of Universal Engineering Corporation (Continental Europe’s largest consulting engineering firm), as a principal of the Swiss Bank Corporation Consultant Group, and as a governor of Peru’s Central Reserve Bank. In the early 1990s, he led the effort to insert Peru into the global economy; and, with his ILD team, drafted and promoted more than 187 laws that gave the poorest Peruvians access to economic opportunities, including title to their property and businesses.
In the last 30 years, de Soto and his colleagues at the ILD have been involved in designing and implementing legal reform programmes to empower the poor in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and former Soviet nations by granting them access to the same property and business rights —and the institutions and tools needed to exercise those rights and freedoms— that the majority of people in developed countries have. Over 30 heads of state have invited him to carry out these ILD programs in their countries. During the past few years, Mr. de Soto has been focusing on three new kinds of problems that have emerged around the world, which he has translated into three new strategies stemming from the ILD’s property rights paradigm: i) the financial crisis; ii) the increasing number of conflicts in developing countries between local communities and private corporations over control of mineral rich territories and agricultural lands; and, iii) the Arab Spring. At the root of each of these apparently different problems, he argues, is the lack of enforceable formal property and business rights and/or the lack of information about them.
De Soto has published two books about economic and political development: The Other Path (1986) and The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else (2000).