Katharina Pistor is a leading scholar and writer on corporate governance, money and finance, property rights, and comparative law and legal institutions.

Pistor is the author or co-author of nine books. Her most recent book, The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth and Inequality, examines how assets such as land, private debt, business organizations, or knowledge are transformed into capital through contract law, property rights, collateral law, and trust, corporate, and bankruptcy law. The Code of Capital was named one of the best books of 2019 by the Financial Times and Business Insider.

Pistor publishes widely in legal and social science journals. In her essay “From Territorial to Monetary Sovereignty” in the Journal on Theoretical Inquiries in Law (2017), she argued that the rise of a global money system means a new definition of sovereignty: the control of money. She has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Institutional Economics, European Business Organization Law Review, American Journal of Comparative Law, and Columbia Journal for European Law.

Pistor is a prominent commentator on cryptocurrency and has testified before Congress on the lack of regulatory oversight of proposed international cryptocurrencies. As the director of the Center on Global Legal Transformation, Pistor directs the center’s work to develop research projects and organize conferences to examine ways in which law shapes global relations and how they, in turn, transform the law.

Before joining Columbia Law School in 2001, Pistor held teaching and research positions at Harvard Law School, the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government and the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Law in Hamburg. She has been a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, New York University Law School, Frankfurt University, London School of Economics, and Oxford University.

Pistor is a research associate with the Centre for Economic Policy Research and has served as principal investigator of the Global Finance and Law Initiative (2011–2013) and member of the board of directors (2011–2014) and 2019 fellow of the European Corporate Governance Institute. In 2015, she was elected a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences.

In 2012 she was co-recipient (with Martin Hellwig) of the Max Planck Research Award on International Financial Regulation, and in 2014 she received the Allen & Overy Prize for the best working paper on law of the European Corporation Governance Institute. She is also the recipient of research grants by the Institute for New Economic Thinking and the National Science Foundation.

By this expert

The State, the Market and the Rule of Law

Paper Conference paper | | Apr 2013

State and market are often depicted as distinct, even antagonistic. Markets appear as natural products of spontaneous ordering; states as leviathans that if left untamed will distort, if not destroy markets’ natural state.

The Law-Finance Paradox

Paper Conference paper | | Apr 2013

The global financial crisis led to the rediscovery of ‘fundamental uncertainty’. Incorporating uncertainty into the analysis of financial markets alters our understanding of how these markets operate and expose the two-faced role of law in finance.

Real vs. Imagined Financial Markets The Regulatory Challenge

Paper Conference paper | | Apr 2012

We have grown accustomed to regulating financial markets based on imagined, not real markets. Real markets are shaped by and co-evolve with institutional arrangements within two fundamental constraints: Imperfect knowledge and the threat of illiquidity.

Featuring this expert

Winter School on Law and Finance

Event Workshop | Jan 5–8, 2014

The Institute will host the Winter School on Law and Finance at Columbia University’s Global Center in Paris on January 6-9, 2014.

Changing of the Guard

Event Plenary | Apr 4–7, 2013

The Institute for New Economic Thinking held its annual plenary conference in Hong Kong from April 4-7, 2013 at the InterContinental Hotel in Kowloon. The event discussed Asia’s emergence in the global economy and other core issues.

What Finance (and Economics) Can Learn from Law

Video | Aug 14, 2011

Without law and legal institutions, financial markets won’t work. That’s what economists discovered about 15 years ago, when former socialist countries turned towards capitalism.