Public Law and Private Power: Corporate Governance Reform in the Age of Finance Capitalism

Public Law and Private Power: Corporate Governance Reform in the Age of Finance Capitalism

by John Cioffi


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In Public Law and Private Power, John W. Cioffi argues that the highly politicized reform of corporate governance law has reshaped power relations within the public corporation in favor of financial interests, contributed to the profound crises of contemporary capitalism, and eroded its political foundations. Analyzing the origins of pro-shareholder and pro-financial market reforms in the United States and Germany during the past two decades, Cioffi unravels a double paradox: the expansion of law and the regulatory state at the core of the financially driven neoliberal economic model and the surprising role of Center Left parties in championing the interests of shareholders and the financial sector.

Since the early 1990s, changes in law to alter the structure of the corporation and financial markets—two institutional pillars of modern capitalism—highlight the contentious regulatory politics that reshaped the legal architecture of national corporate governance regimes and thus the distribution of power and wealth among managers, investors, and labor. Center Left parties embraced reforms that strengthened shareholder rights as part of a strategy to cultivate the support of the financial sector, promote market-driven firm-level economic adjustment, and appeal to popular outrage over recurrent corporate financial scandals. The reforms played a role in fostering an increasingly unstable financially driven economic order; their implication in the global financial crisis in turn poses a threat to center-left parties and the legitimacy of contemporary finance capitalism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801449048
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 12/16/2010
Series: Cornell Studies in Political Economy
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

John W. Cioffi is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Riverside.

Table of Contents

1. Corporate Governance Reform and the Age of Finance Capitalism
2. Corporate Governance as Juridical Nexus and the Politics of Reform
3. Neoliberal Governance and the Neocorporatist Firm: Governance Models in the United States and Germany
4. U.S. Corporate Governance Reform: Boom, Bust, and Backlash
5. German Corporate Governance Reform: The Limits of Legal Transformation
6. Governing the Ruins: The Global Financial Crisis and Corporate Governance
Conclusion: Legal Form and the Politics of Reform

Statutes, Regulations, and Regulatory Materials

What People are Saying About This

Wolfgang Streeck

"This exceedingly well-researched book highlights some of the developments that were later to result in the Great Recession of 2008. It presents a detailed comparative-historical account of the politics of neoliberal corporate governance reform in the United States and Germany. It also contains exciting material for readers interested in institutional change and in the varieties and commonalities of contemporary capitalism."

Peter A. Gourevitch

"In Public Law and Private Power, John W. Cioffi takes on a big topic with a mixture of theory, description, and vivid, interesting case studies. By comparing the superimportant economies of Germany and the United States, Cioffi provides great value."

Ronald Dore

"The grip of the financial octopus on the real economy got us into our present mess, and is likely to be stronger still if we finally get out of it. John W. Cioffi’s brilliant and carefully documented book shows why, drawing evidence from two economies, very different in institutions and ideologies. The octopus feeds on the doctrines of 'shareholder value' increasingly permeating the legal structures that set the allocation of power in corporations. The interest coalitions that bring this about can be quite surprising."

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