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

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"For a number of years, comparative corporate governance research has attempted to explain how politics influence the nature and evolution of corporate governance (CG) regimes. John W. Cioffi's latest book makes an important and topical contribution to this debate. . . . It will be of interest to scholars of CG, comparative lawyers and anyone interested in modern capitalism. Cioffi draws our attention to the importance of 'regulatory politics' in an era where legal density tends to increase. This is a timely corrective to the shifting focus in comparative political economy towards bottom-up (rule-taker driven) and incremental forms of institutional change."—Gerhard Schnyder, British Journal of Industrial Relations (September 2012)

"While other scholars recognized the inter-linkages among what were often seen previously as separate domains, Cioffi's nexus of law approach provides a new and promising alternative way to analyze systematically these inter-linkages. . . . Indeed, I think Cioffi's book should stand alongside it [Political Power and Corporate Control by Peter Gourevitch and James Shinn] as one of the most important monographs by political scientists on corporate governance. Aside from its theoretical contributions, the book contributes extensive and rich new empirical material to the literature, and the work on the Sarbanes-Oxley reform may be some of the best and most thorough on the topic anywhere,"—Richard Deeg, Industrial and Labor Relations Review (July 2012)

"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."—Peter A. Gourevitch, University of California, San Diego, author of Politics in Hard Times

"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."—Wolfgang Streeck, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne

"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."—Ronald Dore, The London School of Economics and Political Science

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Product Details

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

References
Cases
Statutes, Regulations, and Regulatory Materials
Index

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