de Soto on Property Rights & the Crash


My ancestors recorded property right claims with a central registrar in the no-mans land of Oregon when the region had no legitimately recognized government.  The people of the region followed customs of law and governance share among the English and Americans, with the anticipation that their property rights claims would later be recognized by the U. S. government when the region became part of the United States.  The story is recounted in Nimrod:  Courts, Claims and Killing on the Oregon Frontier by Ronald Lansing of the Lewis & Clark School of Law.  Yes, remarkably enough, the story is a murder mystery.

A paraphrase of de Soto on the crash:  “The basic problem with the financial meltdown today is that with all the convoluted derivatives, trades, bundling, etc. the US does not know where its financial paper is. Thus, the US cannot define who is solvent and who is not. The “Rule of Law” comes into play because property ownership is based on a paper trail. Since the paper trail is incomplete regarding detailed ownership of the property underlying the complex derivatives that were sold in the financial industry, no one knows who owns exactly what and what it is worth. As a result, trust plummets.”

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One Response to de Soto on Property Rights & the Crash

  1. Rebecca Burlingame says:

    The formal record keeping methods which de Soto holds in high esteem could also work to benefit society in other ways. Even a society which does not rely heavily upon government can benefit from keeping records of economic activity which does not generate money. Such records are needed for multiple reasons. It helps to know what positive and productive activities others engage in, because this encourages us to engage in similar activities. The act of recording such activities and sharing the results of those activities, encourages the process to continue.

    Part of what made the US great, as de Soto stressed, is the fact that formal records were kept. It is amazing that absolute location for ownership records were forgotten in the quest to create ever more profit. Anyone who needed to sell a home and called their bank who was no longer even aware of the loan, will be gun shy of mortgages in the future.

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