Hernando de Soto

If the United States were to hike its foreign-aid budget to the level recommended by the United Nations-0.7 percent of national income-it would take the richest country on earth more than 150 years to transfer to the world's poor resources equal to those they already possess.

Hernando de Soto has a simple yet visionary approach to relieving poverty in the developing world. In his groundbreaking bestseller, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, he explores the reasons that some countries succeed at capitalism while others fail and proposes solutions that have earned him international awards and advisory roles with heads of state and corporate leaders alike.

For his work, Mr. de Soto was named as a finalist to receive the Nobel Prize for Finance in 2002. Time magazine has named de Soto one of the five leading Latin American innovators of the century. The Economist deemed Mr. de Soto’s organization, the Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD), the second most important think tank in the world. The German magazine Entwicklung und Zusammenarbeit named Mr. de Soto one of the most important development thought leaders of the last millennium.

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. In its 85th anniversary edition, Forbes named Mr. de Soto as one of 15 innovators “who will reinvent your future”. In January 2000, Entwicklung und Zusammenarbeit, the German development magazine, described Mr. de Soto as one of the most important development theoreticians of the last millennium.  In October 2005, over 20,000 readers of Prospect magazine of the UK and Foreign Policy of the US ranked him among the top 13 “public intellectuals” in the world from the magazines’ joint list of 100.

Mr. 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.

Mr. de Soto has published two books about economic and political development: The Other Path, in the mid- 1980s, and at the end of 2000, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. Both books have been international bestsellers – translated into some 20 languages.