The Code of Capital. How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality
Speaker(s)Katharina Pistor (Columbia Law School, United States)
LocationAmsterdam Law School (Nieuwe Achtergracht 166), building REC A, room A5.24
Date and time
October 29, 2019
16:00 - 17:15
Capital is not a thing; rather capital is the product of an object, claim to future cash-flows, or an idea and the legal code. In principle, any asset can be turned into capital, or private wealth, by using the elements of the code to imbue these assets with priority, durability, convertibility, and universality. A handful of legal elements have been used over the past 400 years to code first land and later firms, debt, and ideas into capital, namely property rights, collateral law, trust, corporate, bankruptcy and contract. This works, because states back legal coding strategies with their coercive powers. Further, they back not only assets that are coded in their own, domestic law, but also assets that are coded in foreign law. Global capitalism configured in only few legal systems, a menu of options from which sophisticated lawyers, the masters of the code, will pick and choose.