Document Type

Book Review


In “The Little King,” Salman Rushdie’s prize-winning take on corruption and the opioid crisis, as published in The New Yorker (July 29, 2019), the law is described as “an ass,” but a useful one:

"The law is useful, in fact. It tells you who is the correct person you need to convince. Otherwise, you can waste money convincing people who don’t have the stamp. Waste not, want not. We are like this only. We know what is the oil that greases the wheels" (Rushdie, 59, 2019).

The Code of Capital. How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality is a prize-winning take on the usefulness of law confined to the international financial market. Katarina Pistor elucidates how the core institutions of private law – contract, property, collateral, trust, corporate, and bankruptcy law – are the building blocks of the financial system, including its newer financial instruments.

Pistor achieves the impossible. She dispenses with legalese and focuses on the substance, which she then explains in a language that is both informative and unthreatening to the financial novice (a category in which I include myself). Pistor brings together legal analysis that is interdisciplinary, historical, and comparative. She is compelling and never pedantic nor boring.