The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality


Product Details

Princeton University Press
Publish Date
6.5 X 9.3 X 1.3 inches | 1.4 pounds

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About the Author

Katharina Pistor is the Edwin B. Parker Professor of Comparative Law and director of the Center on Global Legal Transformation at Columbia Law School. She is the coauthor of Law and Capitalism: What Corporate Crises Reveal about Legal Systems and Economic Development around the World and the coeditor of Governing Access to Essential Resources. She lives in New York City.


"This is a fascinating book that demonstrates how the rights of capital have been entrenched in the international legal system. The Code of Capital opens the way for a thoughtful discussion about the treaties on capital flows and privileges that need to be rewritten. A must-read."--Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century
"Law, Pistor shows in this breakthrough book, is the essential means by which increasingly intangible and mobile assets are protected against control, especially democratic control. Understanding the intricacy of how law works to produce and safeguard soaring wealth for the rich is essential for confronting the inequality crisis of our time. Brilliant, clear, and pithy, The Code of Capital is an essential contribution for reformers and scholars alike."--Samuel Moyn, author of Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World
"Katharina Pistor has crafted a powerful and relentlessly intelligent argument about the importance of law for modern capital. Written with lucid erudition, her book explores legal patterns and relationships underlying centuries of economic development. Anyone interested in finance, wealth, or inequality will want to engage this ambitious and innovative work."--Bruce G. Carruthers, Northwestern University
"The Code of Capital delivers the keys to understanding how law and lawyers push the property system toward concentrated and entrenched wealth. Many of its insights are timeless, but Pistor shows how globalization has spun these mechanisms into overdrive. A must-read for comprehending financial capitalism and its threat to democratic citizenship."--Roy Kreitner, author of Calculating Promises: The Emergence of Modern American Contract Doctrine
"The Code of Capital is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding how global capital markets function. In clear and understandable terms, Pistor traces the legal coding of capital, the explosive expansion of finance, and the steep fall of the global financial crisis."--Cathy M. Kaplan, senior counsel, Sidley Austin LLP
"Those of us concerned with inequality should be focusing a great deal of attention on the basics of valuation, which means looking hard at the way law makes money."---Roy Kreitner, LPEblog
"The wealth drawn from both the digital darkness and the dark pools of Wall Street exists only by virtue of the law's encasement. . . . [Pistor's] metaphors allow us to see how, by ceding democratic control of law, we've 'depoliticized critical questions of self-governance, ' preserving mobility for some and blocking it for others."---Quinn Slobodian, Boston Review
"So much discussion around wealth and inequality involves gawking at statistics people don't understand. Katharina Pistor offers a fascinating argument as to why inequality is increasing, and does so without having to construct class identities, as Marxists feel compelled to do, or to make heroic assumptions about the rationality of human beings, as rational choice theorists would have it."---David Murphy, Open Letters Review
"Through extensive case studies, Pistor demonstrates that no one deliberately set out to construct the 'empire of law.' Rather, it is the result of a decentralized, unplanned process in which individual private lawyers helped individual clients protect their assets through the use of pre-existing legal constructs."---Nouriel Roubini, Project Syndicate
"The Code of Capital is a welcome interdisciplinary contribution which attaches fresh dimensions to debates on the political economy of wealth and inequality. . . .it is a valuable resource for anyone seeking to grapple with the formidable nature of global capital."---Juvaria Jafri, LSE US Centre
"One of the Financial Times' Readers' Best Books of 2019"
"Almost anybody who reads this book will benefit; a must-read for corporate lawyers, investment bankers, capital providers."---Rahul Saikia, Financial Times
"One of the Financial Times' Best Books of 2019: Economics"
"One of Business Insider's Richard Feloni's best books of 2019 on how we can rethink today's capitalism and improve the economy"