The free market secret of the Arab revolutions

Hernando de Soto in the Financial Times:

ImgDebatesHernandoDeSotoA few weeks ago I met Salem, the younger brother of the brave Tunisian fruit vendor whose self-immolation 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.”

It is worth remembering these words as experts busily debate the challenges for the future of the Arab revolution as countries balance the quest for democracy, fidelity to Islam, with secularism and tribal power.

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.

More here.