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    walmart's chinese unions..., 2006-08-11 13:29:20 | Main | gabriel kolko still kicking...., 2006-08-13 15:41:44

    one trick pony for sale - may need more to become economically viable:

    I'm at a total loss for how Argentina has been sentenced to low growth, but one thing I didn't amateurishly imagine about Hernando De Soto's titling program the first and last time I thought about his stuff two and half years ago was that it would become a practical basis for mass enclosures of newly minted real estate in Cambodia and such a gross implementation failure:

    In June of 2002, for example, the World Bank kicked off a several-year project to distribute over a million titles throughout Cambodia. In Phnom Penh, the capital, untitled land near the city center has been selling for about $20 to $30 per square meter over the past few years. Titled properties nearby have been selling for around 10 times that much. For a poor squatter in the middle of the capital city, the promise of a title would seem to be a road to riches. In practice, it's more like a sign taped to his back that says, "Kick me."

    In the nine months or so leading up to the project kickoff, a devastating series of slum fires and forced evictions purged 23,000 squatters from tracts of untitled land in the heart of Phnom Penh. These squatters were then plopped onto dusty relocation sites several miles outside of the city, where there were no jobs and where the price of commuting to and from central Phnom Penh (about $2 per day) surpassed whatever daily wage they had been earning in town before the fires. Meanwhile, the burned-out inner city land passed immediately to some of the wealthiest property developers in the country. (Prominent among them was this guy, Cambodia's richest thug.)

    Since then, a similar pattern has continued elsewhere in the city, says Alain Durand-Lasserve, a land-management expert who has worked in Cambodia during the last couple of years. Investors have been buying squatter-occupied state land from various government officials in Phnom Penh, who pocket the money, thus looting the land both from the state and from the poor. In other cases in Phnom Penh—and also in Manila, in the Philippines—speculators or middle-income groups went out before titling programs took effect and bought land at slightly better than informal prices directly from the squatters, who happily sold off for a bit of cash. Then the investors just waited for the titling program—and the attendant leap in value and legal security—to come their way.

    It turns out that titling is more useful to elite and middle-income groups who can afford to bother with financial leverage, risk, and real estate markets. For very poor squatters in the inner city—who care most about day-to-day survival, direct access to livelihood, and keeping costs down—titles make comparatively little sense. These poorer groups either fall prey to eviction or they sell out, assuming they'll find some other affordable pocket of informality that they can settle into. The problem is, with titling programs on the march, such informal pockets are disappearing fast. So, the poor sell cheap or are evicted, then can't find a decent new place to settle, losing the crucial geographic advantage they once had in the labor market.

    Oh wait, I did amateurishly imagine that:

    Whether it will have a long-term positive impact isn't set in stone, and remains dependent on other policies, the symptoms of which can be measured by whether people are able to retain their newly (re)-recognized assets (globalize this discusses this in more detail)

    Indeed, Hersch was inordinately more explicitly right about it, they should hurry up and give him his ph.d..


:: posted by buermann @ 2006-08-13 13:27:56 CST | link





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