March 10, 2019 • 1 min
The term “capital” is often used to refer to money that is available for investment or, indeed, any asset that can be readily turned into money for it. Thus, a person’s house is often described as his or her capital, because it can be turned into capital either by selling it or by borrowing on the strength of it. Many small businesses are indeed set up in this way. It is, however, only possible to turn property into capital if its ownership is clearly established, its value can be measured, its title can be transferred, and a market exists for it. A characteristic feature of the development of capitalist societies is the emergence of institutions that enable the conversion of assets of all kinds into capital. It is the absence of these institutions and, above all, functioning systems of property law that frustrates the emergence of local capitalisms in the Third World.