In my forthcoming book, “The Code of Capital: How Law Creates Wealth and Inequality”, I argue that capital is coded in law, or more specifically, in core institutions of private law, including property, collateral, trust, corporate, bankruptcy as well as contract law. These “modules” of the code of capital bestow critical attributes on assets, such as objects or claims, and thereby transform them from simple into a wealth generating assets. These attributes are priority, durability, convertibility and universality. Critically, their efficacy relies on the state’s coercive powers. Recently, law has met a potential competitor in the form of the digital code. Blockchain and similar technologies make it possible to encode commitments such that they will be executed irrespective of a change of heart, or circumstances. Decentralized verification of resources and rights instead of ex post vindication of legal title promises a world without courts and without coercive law enforcement. In short, “a new code” may be on the horizon and its relation to the legacy, or legal, code raises fundamental questions about how to organize economic relations in an uncertain world and about who gets to set the parameters for doing so.
Monday, February 11, 2019 - 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Vincent Hall 16