The Code of Capital - Summary and Key Ideas

The Code of Capital explores how law and legal institutions play a crucial role in creating wealth and inequality by transforming ordinary assets into capital, using legal modules such as property rights, collateral, trust, corporate, and bankruptcy law.

The target group of "The Code of Capital" includes readers interested in understanding the role of law in wealth creation and inequality, such as economists, legal professionals, and policymakers.

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The Code of Capital

Key ideas


Law serves as the source code for capital, transforming intangible assets into wealth through legal modules and evolving over time to include intellectual property rights.


Legal coding strategies extend intellectual property rights' life span, balancing innovation promotion and knowledge access while potentially enabling monopoly abuse.

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The legal coding of capital shapes wealth creation and distribution, often hidden within complex legal frameworks and private law firms.

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The legal order sustaining global capitalism is a decentralized patchwork of domestic laws and international treaties, shaping the distribution of wealth and power in society.

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The global legal profession's mastery of code reshapes capital distribution and influences wealth in society.

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Summary & Review

The Code of Capital by Katharina Pistor explores how law plays a crucial role in creating wealth and inequality. The author argues that capital is coded in law, specifically in private law institutions such as property, collateral, trust, corporate, bankruptcy law, and contracts. By using these legal modules, private attorneys can transform ordinary assets into capital, giving their clients a comparative advantage over others. The book also highlights the role of lawyers as the masters of the code, shaping the distribution of wealth in society.

Katharina Pistor

Katharina Pistor is a German legal scholar and professor of comparative law at Columbia Law School. Her research focuses on the intersection of law, finance, and economic development, with an emphasis on the role of legal institutions in shaping global financial markets.

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