- The major stumbling block that keeps the rest of the world from benefiting from capitalism is its ability to produce capital. Capital is the force that raises the productivity of labor and creates the wealth of nations. It is the lifeblood of the capitalist system, the foundation of progress, and the one thing that the poor countries of the world cannot seem to produce for themselves, no matter how eagerly their peoples engage in all other activities that characterize a capitalist economy.
- Most of the poor already possess the assets they need to make a success of capitalism. Even in the poorest countries the poor save. ...But they hold these resources in defective forms: houses on land whose ownership rights are not adequately recorded, unincorporated businesses with undefined liability, industries located where financiers and investors cannot see them. Because the rights to these possessions are not adequately documented, these assets cannot readily be turned into capital, cannot be traded outside of narrow local circles where people know and trust each other, cannot be used as collateral for a loan and cannot be used as a share against an investment.
- Imagine a country where nobody can identify who owns what, addresses cannot be easily verified, people cannot made to pay their debts, resources cannot conveniently be turned into money, ownership cannot be divided into shares, descriptions of assets are not standardized and cannot be easily compared, and the rules that govern property vary from neighbourhood or even from street to street.
- By our calculations, the total value of the real estate held but not legally owned by the poor of the Third World and former communist nations is at least USD 9.3 trillion.
- In medieval Latin "capital" appears to have denoted head of cattle or other livestock, which have always been important sources of wealth beyond the basic meat they provide.
- The term capital begins to do two jobs simultaneously, capturing the physical dimension of assets (livestock) as well as their potential to generate surplus value.
- Great classical economist such as Adam Smith and Karl Marx believed that capital was the engine that powered the market economy. Capital was considered to be the principal part of the economic whole - the pre-eminent factor as such phrases as capital issues, capital punishment, the capital city of a country.
- Much of the mystery of capital dissipates as soon as you stop thinking of capital as a synonym for money saved and invested.
- Capital, like energy, is also a dormant value. Bringing it to life requires us to go beyond looking at our assets as they are to thinking actively about them as they could be. It requires a process for fixing an asset's economic potential into a form that may be used to initiate additional production.
- Property is the realm where we identify and explore assets, combine them and link them to other assets. The formal property system is capital's hydroelectiric plant. This is the place where capital is born.
- Property is the realm where we identify and explore assets, combine them and link them to other assets. The formal property system is capital's hydroelectric plant. This is the place where capital is born.
- Any asset whose economic and social aspects are not fixed in a formal property system is extremely hard to move in the market. How can the huge amounts of assets changing hands in a modern market economy be controlled if not through a formal property process? Without such a system, any trade of an asset, say a piece of real estate, requires an enormous effort just to determine the basics of the transaction: does the seller own the real estate and have the right to transfer it? Can he pledge it? Will the new owner be accepted as such by those who enforce property rights?
- Even if assets belong to a corporation, real people still own them indirectly, through titles certifying that they own the corporation as "shareholders".
- The process within the formal property system that breaks down assets into capital is extremely difficult to visualize.
- Property, like energy, is a concept; it cannot be experienced directly. Pure energy has never been seen or touched. And no one can see property. One can only experience energy and property by their effects.
- Capital is born by representing in writing - in a title, a security, a contract and other such records - the most economically and socially useful qualities about the asset, as opposed to the visually more striking aspects of the asset.
- The proof that property is pure concept comes when a house changes hands; nothing physically changes. Looking at a house will not tell you who owns it. A house that is yours today looks exactly as it did yesterday when it was mine. It looks the same whether I own it, rent it or sell it to you. Property is not the house itself but an economic concept about the house, embodied in a legal representation. This means that a formal property representation is something separate from the asset itself. ... A formal property representation such as a title is not a reproduction of the house, like a photograph, but a representation of our concept about the house. Specifically, it represents the non-visible qualities that have potential for producing value. These are not physical qualities of the house itself but rather economically and socially meaningful qualities we humans have attributed to the house (such as the ability to use it for a variety of purposes that may be secured by liens, mortgages, easements and other covenants).
- Legal property gave the West the tools to produce surplus value over and above its physical assets.
- As Aristotle discovered 2300 years ago, what you can do with things increases infinitely when you you focus your thinking on their potential.
- Formal property's role in protecting not only ownership but the security of transactions encourages citizens in advanced countries to respect titles, honour contracts and obey the law.
- The lack of legal property explains why citizens in developing and former communist nations cannot make profitable contracts with strangers, cannot get credit, insurance or utilities services: they have no property to lose. Because they have no property to lose, they are taken seriously as contracting parties only by their immediate family and neighbours. People with nothing to lose are trapped in the grubby basement of the pre-capitalist world.
- Thanks to formal property, a single factory can be held by countless investors, who can divest themselves of their property without affecting the integrity of the physical asset.
- Many title systems in developing nations fail to produce capital because they do not acknowledge that property can go way beyond ownership. These systems function purely as an ownership inventory of deeds and maps standing in for assets, without allowing for the additional mechanisms required to create a network where assets can lead a parallel life as capital.
- Property is not mere paper but a mediating device that captures and stores most of the stuff required to make a market economy run. Property seeds the system by making people accountable and assets fungible, by tracking transactions, and so providing all the mechanisms required for the monetary and banking system to work and for investment to function. The connection between capital and modern money runs through property.
- Money does not earn money. You need a property right before you can make money. Even if you loan money, the only way you can earn on it is by loaning or investing it against some kind of property document that establishes your rights to principal and interests. To repeat: money presupposes property.
- Money is never created ex nihilo from the point of view of property which must always exist before money can come into existence.
- Interest and money cannot be understood without the institution of property.
- Capital is not created by money; it is created by people whose property systems help them to cooperate and think about how they can get the assets they accumulate to deploy additional production.
- If capitalism had a mind, it would be located in the legal property system.
- The bell jar makes capitalism a private club, open only to a privileged few, and enrages the billions standing outside looking in. This capitalist apartheid will inevitably continue until we all come to terms with the critical flaw in many countries' legal and political systems that prevents the majority from entering the formal property system.
- Land is probably Russia's most valuable resource, a resource upon which an entire economy and a democratic society can be based.
- Only 7% of the land on the Indonesian archipelago has a clear owner.
- Property is socially constructed. This means that property arrangements work best when people have formed a consensus about the ownership of assets and the rules that govern their use and exchange.
- Everyone will benefit from globalizing capitalism within a country, but the most obvious and largest beneficiary will be the poor.
- Private property is arguably the single most important institution of social and political integration. Ownership of property creates a commitment to the political and legal order since the latter guarantees property rights: it makes the citizen into a co-sovereign, as it were. As such, property is the principal vehicle for inculcating in the mass of the population respect for law and an interest in the preservation of the status quo. Historical evidence indicates that societies with a wide distribution of property, notably in land and residential housing, are more conservative and stabler, and for that reason more resilient to upheavals of all sorts. - Richard Pipes.
- When poor people have confidence that their land and businesses are legally theirs, their respect for other people's property increases. Owning formal property also tends to discourage unruly behaviour.
- Formal property is more that just ownership.
- Only twenty-five of the world's two hundred countries produce capital in sufficient quantity to benefit fully from the division of labor in expanded global markets. The lifeblood of capitalism is not the Internet or fast-food franchises. It is capital. Only capital provides the means to support specialization and the production and exchange of assets in the expanded market. It is capital that is the source of increasing productivity and therefore the wealth of nations.
- Growth is all about obtaining high-value outputs from low-value inputs.
- The notion that, value of things can be increased by reducing the costs of knowing them and transacting with them, is one of Nobel laureate Ronald Coase's major contributions. In his treatise The Nature of the Firm Coase established that the costs of carrying out transactions can be substantially reduced within the controlled and coordinated context of a firm. In this sense property systems are like Coase's firm - controlled environments to reduce transaction costs.
- Ironically, the enemies of capitalism have always seemed more aware of the virtual origin of capital than capitalists themselves.
lauantai 8. syyskuuta 2012
Hernando de Soto: The Mystery of Capital
Mitä on pääoma? Tähän kysymykseen haen näkökulmia seuraavissa blogikirjoituksissani. Michel Foucaultin mukaan vastakohta määrittää myös itse kohdetta. Siis pääomaa määrittää pääomattomuus. Mitä sitten on pääomattomuus? Siihen kysymykseen oivan vastauksen antaa Hernando de Soton teos The Mystery of Capital - Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and fails everywhere else.
Hernando De Soto
Hernando de Soto on perulainen taloustieteilijä, joka on keskittynyt tarkastelemaan omistusoikeuden merkitystä erityisesti kehittymättömissä talouksissa. De Soton pääviesti on, että markkinatalous edellyttää toimiakseen tietojärjestelmän, joka huomioi ja määrittelee omistusoikeudet. Omistusoikeuksien puute estää pääomien syntymisen, ihmisten elinolosuhteiden parantumisen ja siten talouden kehittymisen. Erityisesti puutteellinen maanomistusoikeus on keskeinen tekijä, joka estää elinolosuhteiden kehittymisen. De Soton argumentti on hyvin järkeenkäypä. Kuka rakentaisi talon maalle, jonka omistusoikeudesta kenelläkään ei ole tietoa ja jonka oikeuden valtio tai muu taho voi milloin tahansa viedä pois? Ilman omistusoikeuksia ja omistusten rekisteröintiä ei synny pääomaa eli omaisuutta, jolla on arvoa ja jota voidaan käyttää lainojen vakuutena tai vaihdannan kohteena. De Soton mukaan kehittymättömissä talouksissa on kyllä varoja (assets), mutta ei omaisuutta (property). Tätä paradoksia hän kutsuu kuolleeksi pääomaksi (dead capital).
The Mystery of Capital
Pääoma on kuin energia
De Soton analyysi kehittymättömistä talouksista on silmiä avaava. Ei siis ihme, että hänen näkemyksiään on kehuttu ja kiitelty sekä politiikan vasemmalla että oikealla laidalla. Länsimaissa omistusoikeudet ja siten pääoma otetaan nykyään lähes itsestäänselvyytenä. Kuitenkin fakta on, että näin ei ole suurimmassa osassa maapallon maita. Länsimaisena on hyvin vaikea kuvitella maata, jossa kukaan ei tiedä kuka omistaa mitä, kotiosoitteita ei voida vahvistaa, ihmisillä ei ole mahdollisuuksia lainansaantiin, resursseja ei voi muuttaa rahaksi, omaisuutta ei voi jakaa osakkeiksi, omaisuuseriä ei voi vertailla ja omaisuutta koskevat säännöt vaihtelevat alueittain tai niitä ei ole lainkaan. De Soto vertaa pääomaa osuvasti myös energiaan, koska yhtälailla pääomaa itsessään ei voi nähdä ja koskea. Silti sen vaikutukset ovat merkittävät.
The Mystery of Capital on suositeltava kirja luettavaksi. Yhdessä Dambisa Moyon Dead Aidin kanssa ne muodostavat hyvän, vaihtoehtoisen näkökulman kehitysmaiden ongelmiin. De Soto tarjoaa kirjassaan useita määritelmiä pääomalle ja omaisuudelle sekä valaisee perustellun näkemyksen kapitalismin pohjimmaisiin peruselementteihin. De Soton sanoman mukaan on selvää, että yksityinen omistajuus ja ihmisten tunnistettu ja tunnustettu oikeus omistaa ovat kapitalistisen järjestelmän kovinta ydintä. Ilman näitä ei ole markkinataloutta ja ilman markkinataloutta ei ole vaurautta.