Hernando de Soto on the Entrepreneurial Roots of the Arab Spring


Writing in The Financial Times, Hernando de Soto highlights the entrepreneurial frustrations at the root of the Arab uprising:

A few weeks ago I met Salem, the younger brother of the brave Tunisian fruit vendor [Tarek Mohamed Bouazizi] whose self-imolation triggered the Arab uprising. When I asked him what his brother in heaven would say if we asked what he hoped his sacrifice would bring to the Arab World, Salem did not hesitate: "That the poor also have the right to buy and sell."…

In the wake of the overthrow of three autocrats, not enough credit has been given to the mighty consensus that triggered the uprising—the desire of a vast, underclass of people to work in a legal market economy. In the culturally diverse Middle East and north Africa, the one common thread is its informal economy. This is the key to future growth and indeed stability.

As is his forté, De Soto describes in detail the arbitrary barriers that prevent micro-entrepreneurs like Bouazizi from legally engaging in peaceful exchange.

[Thanks to Richard Cowan for the link.]