Katharina Pistor

Michael I. Sovern Professor of Law
Columbia Law School

Katharina Pistor is Michael I. Sovern Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and Director of the Center on Global Legal Transformation. She previously taught at the Kennedy School of Government, and worked at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Private Law in Hamburg, Germany; she also serves on Columbia University’s Committee on Global Thought. Her research focuses on the development of legal institutions in the context of social and economic transformation. In the 1990s she worked predominantly on transition economies in Central and Eastern Europe, but has since expanded her research to other emerging markets and the global economy. Ongoing research projects include globalization and the transformation of law; comparative global finance; and the distributional effects of alternative regulatory regimes.

Recent publications: “Host’s Dilemma: Rethinking EU Banking Regulation in Light of the Global Crisis” (Festschrift für Hopt, 2010) “Global Network Finance” (Journal of Comparative Economics, 2009); and, with Curtis Milhaupt, “Law and Capitalism: What Corporate Crises Reveal about Legal Systems and Economic Development Around the World” (Chicago University Press, 2008).

My Content

Who wields supreme power over the ECB? This column analyses the recent ruling by the German Constitutional Court that the ECB cannot act as lender of last resort. Although seemingly couched by the referral of this decision to the European Court of Justice, this is a bid for power and the return to the pre-crisis paradigm of ‘ultra posse nemo obligatur’.

Can the European Central Bank legally act as lender of last resort to ensure the survival of the euro?

When Greece’s sovereign-debt crisis threatened the euro’s survival, U.S. officials called their European counterparts to express bewilderment at their inability to resolve the issue. Now, the tables have turned, with American leaders on the receiving end of such calls. The most recent threat of a U.S. debt default has been avoided, but only temporarily. Another battle looms early next year, when the U.S. government’s debt ceiling will have to be raised again.

My Video Content

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We have an increasingly complex financial system and a correspondingly complex system of regulation to go with it. Constructing a proper regulatory framework not only entails an understanding of economics and finance, but also law, since much of the regulation is enacted via legislation.  
So how does the law interact with finance?  
To answer that question, Katharina Pistor, a grantee of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, professor at Columbia University Law School, and the director of Columbia’s Center on Global Legal Transformation, is developing a Legal Theory of Finance that makes big strides in this area. 
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Keynote panel titled "Capitalism and the Rule of Law" at the Institute for New Economic Thinking's "Changing of the Guard?" conference in Hong Kong, with featured speakers Niall Ferguson and INET Grantee Katharina Pistor and moderator John Kay. 

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INET grantee Katharina Pistor speaks at INET's conference in Hong Kong on the changing of the guard in the world economy and on the most pressing economic issues of today. 

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“You can’t understand finance if you don’t put law front and center.”

So says Katharina Pistor in her innovative keynote address at INET's False Dichotomies conference, which was co-hosted with the Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo, Canada on November 16-17th, 2012.

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Discussion and Q&A at the breakout panel entitled "How Can We Create a Financial System That Is Socially Useful?" at the Institute for New Economic Thinking's (INET) Paradigm Lost Conference in Berlin. April 14, 2012. #inetberlin

My Grants

Katharina Pistor, who directs the Center on Global Legal Transformation at Columbia Law School, was awarded a grant by the Institute for New Economic Thinking to launch the Global Finance and Law Initiative.