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I have an unrelated question, which you might have strong opinions on or information about.

I just finished reading http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0465016154/ which espouses the theory that the root of a lot of problems is that countries set up formal property systems that exclude most of their population, and then fail to capture the contracts that people actually live by. Because of this, people are unable to secure loans because they can't prove to the broader world that "their" property is theirs.

It is a classic, "Here is the problem, fix this and all else gets better" kind of prescription. I'm always suspicious of those.

But as an expert in this area, what do you think of this one? Is it as big an issue as they claim? How much would fixing it help?

Hi btilly, I am not an expert in property law in general. I understand it is a contentious issue in much of Latin America, Hernando De Soto's area of focus. I can tell you that many Zidisha borrowers do have formal legal title to farming plots and homes, but they do not use this property as collateral for loans because they cannot afford the risk of losing it.

More broadly, I do not think any one service - property reform, or business growth capital, or health or education for that matter - is a cure-all. All of these services are needed, and each works optimally when the others are present.

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