Their graphs describe the largely fictional formal economy when most of mankind has little connection to the matters described in statistics.
From the relative obscurity of Lima, in Peru, Hernando de Soto has been working on critiques of poverty and the techniques persistently deployed to keep people poor. To me, he is a true hero - both intellectually and physically.
The tasty biennial Milton Friedman Prize of $500,000 has just been awarded to Mr De Soto by the prestigious Cato Institute in Washington DC. I think the accolade will enhance his name, bring his message to the fore, and eventually transform millions of lives.
I think De Soto has useful lessons for the developed world, even though we think ourselves far from the misery of the failed states. This explains why as a judge for the prize, I cast my vote for him unhesitatingly.
First, let me outline his life. A middle-class Peruvian, he had a successful business career in Europe. At 38, he had made more than enough to retire. On returning to Lima in 1979 he was jolted by the poverty. Why was it so different from Europe?
The people were as energetic and as dexterous. They wanted to make life better for their families, yet outside of a tiny elite - all very close to the Peruvian state - everyone was officially poor.
What De Soto found was complex in detail but simple in essence: the poor lacked property rights. "They had houses but no titles; crops but no deeds; businesses but no statutes of incorporation," he wrote.
Some 95 per cent of Peruvians are locked out of the highly regulated formal or legal economy. Of course, the informal economy is thriving. It is the reality of the economy for most people in what we call the third world.
In short, they are all rather richer than we are told and could easily be vastly richer if they could only establish the property rights to the fruits of their labour.
De Soto has only two books to his name The Other Path (1989) and The Mystery of Capital (2000). These two texts are truly revolutionary. The key to bequeathing prosperity is to relax all constrictions and grant tradable property rights - the rights that the elites all enjoy.
So, when you look at the shanty towns that thrive outside every third world city, you have to realise that while highly elaborated property rights are evolving and are recognised by everyone (except the state), they are just not transferable.
Imagine if you held no transferable rights to your home. You would instantly suffer the loss of security everyone endures in Peru. Moreover, the absence of legally enforced property rights enhances the power and influence of the criminals.
In 1980, De Soto created the Institute for Liberty and Democracy. It seems to me to have transformed Peruâs understanding of itself. Yet De Sotoâs influence is far wider than his Andean city. He is tendering his ideas on every continent. He exasperates Conservatives and Socialists alike. This is because his sensibilities are left- wing - to lift those in poverty - but his prescriptions are radically libertarian.
Gamal Mubarak has asked him to offer bold policy reforms in Egypt; Vicente Fox, the Mexican president, seeks his advice; Philippines president Gloria Arroyo values his help.
In every case, he avoids the usual mixture of charity or alms. The poor do not need the transfer of goods but the transfer of rights. The oppressed of the poorest nations just need functioning markets and the rule of law.
"Five-sixths of the worldâs population are locked out of the capitalist system. Most are as marked off as apartheid once separated black and white South Africans," he writes.
His ideas lead to conclusions that upset the Marxist brutalists w