Establishing Formal Rules such as Property Rights is a Promising Road to Sustainable Economic Growth and Peace

Introduction by Professor Steven L. Spiegel
Director, Center for Middle East Development

About Elena Panaritis

Elena Panaritis, author of Prosperity Unbound: Building Property Markets with Trust (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), is an economist and social entrepreneur. She now leads the effort of public sector reform in Greece as an honorary government adviser. Her ideas are particularly timely, especially in the context of the current global economic crisis and the ongoing efforts to eliminate illiquid/informal property markets around the world.

“It is no accident that this crisis has originated in the United States,” Elena explains. “The property system is built on a false assumption: that the property is valued correctly. Unless that’s fixed, the risk will always be far greater than necessary.”

Elena is the founder of a prototype triple-bottom-line investment advisory firm, Panel Group, and is a former World Bank economist. She has played a direct, hands-on role in creating stable property markets and preventing mortgage crisis such as ours. She created a new methodology and used it to spearhead property rights reform in Peru, with enormous and internationally recognized success. Some 9 million people benefited from the reforms in about three years.

Robert Litan of the Brookings Institute and The Kauffman Foundation of Enterpreneurship calls Elena’s work a “real contribution.”

In his Financial Times online column, Willem Buiter specifically recommends Elena’s book Prosperity Unbound. Buiter, a London School of Economics professor and former chief economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, takes “useless” and “harmful” finance based on derivatives to task and writes that “effective and efficient financial intermediation is a necessary condition for prosperity.” By contrast, he refers to Elena’s work as “useful finance” and continues: “The world described in [Prosperity Unbound], where the foundations of a productive market economy are being put in place, appears light years removed from the world of Wall Street ...”

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Duration: 10:16

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Michelle Chaldu

Published: Wednesday, December 02, 2009

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