International Speaker Series 2021-2022
The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality
Date: September 15, 2021, 20:00 — 21:00 HKT
Speaker: Katharina Pistor
Capital is the defining feature of modern economies, yet most people have no idea where it actually comes from. What is it, exactly, that transforms mere wealth into an asset that automatically creates more wealth? The Code of Capital explains how capital is created behind closed doors in the offices of private attorneys, and why this little-known fact is one of the biggest reasons for the widening wealth gap between the holders of capital and everybody else.
In our first webinar in International Speaker Series, Katharina Pistor argues that the law selectively “codes” certain assets, endowing them with the capacity to protect and produce private wealth. With the right legal coding, any object, claim, or idea can be turned into capital—and lawyers are the keepers of the code. Pistor describes how they pick and choose among different legal systems and legal devices for the ones that best serve their clients’ needs, and how techniques that were first perfected centuries ago to code landholdings as capital are being used today to code stocks, bonds, ideas, and even expectations—assets that exist only in law.
A powerful new way of thinking about one of the most pernicious problems of our time, The Code of Capital explores the different ways that debt, complex financial products, and other assets are coded to give financial advantage to their holders. This provocative book paints a troubling portrait of the pervasive global nature of the code, the people who shape it, and the governments that enforce it.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
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.
ABOUT THE DISCUSSANT
Dr. Jedidiah Kroncke is an associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, joining the faculty in August of 2018. He currently teaches property, equity and trusts, as well as courses in common law reasoning for civil law students. Previously, he was a professor at FGV Sao Paulo School of Law, and before this he was the Senior Fellow at the East Asian Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School.
ABOUT THE CHAIR
Dr. Angela Zhang, Director of the Centre for Chinese Law at the University of Hong Kong