Lawless Capitalism

The Subprime Crisis and the Case for an Economic Rule of Law

304 pages

June, 2014

ISBN: 9781479845323



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Steven A. Ramirez is Professor of Law and Associate Dean at Loyola University of Chicago, where he also directs the Business and Corporate Governance Law Center. 

All books by Steven A. Ramirez

In this innovative and exhaustive study, Steven A. Ramirez posits that the subprime mortgage crisis, as well as the global macroeconomic catastrophe it spawned, is traceable to a gross failure of law.

The rule of law must appropriately channel and constrain the exercise of economic and political power. Used effectively, it ensures that economic opportunity isn’t limited to a small group of elites that enjoy growth at the expense of many, particularly those in vulnerable economic situations. In Lawless Capitalism, Ramirez calls for the rule of law to displace crony capitalism. Only through the rule of law, he argues, can capitalism be reconstructed.


  • "Thoughtful, well-constructed volume."


  • “Unlike some articles on the crisis, Ramirez takes great pains to show that racism pervades out economy and political system, and that this fundamentally helped to create the financial meltdown. He begins with an examination of the untapped human potential, explains how the system is stacked against people of color, and reveals that people of color were the victims of the very subprime mortgages that elites bundled into securities and sold to unwitting investors around the world.”

    Law Library Journal

  • "The main value of this book lies in the fact that it 'articulates a legal framework that comprehends the link between law and macroeconomic stability and growth.'"


  • "[The book] explores the role of corrupted law and regulation in the financial crisis of 2007-09 and its ongoing macroeconomic consequences. [It] presents a legal framework that comprehends the links between law and macroeconomic growth."

    Journal of Economic Literature

  • "Capitalism and the profit motive can stimulate human productivity and innovation. But they can also lead to corruption, shady politics, and self-dealing. This brilliant book shows how intelligently designed laws and lawsuits can facilitate the former and discourage the latter. . . . Steven Ramirez is the new Andrew Hacker. He wields statistics, numbers, and concepts like a scalpel."

    —Richard Delgado, co-author of Critical Race Theory

  • "Professor Steven Ramirez's Lawless Capitalism is a tour de force. The pages are virtually crackling with urgency and deeply considered alternatives to the wayward capitalism currently practiced in the United States. Ramirez, in his critical contribution to the ongoing debate in connection with free markets and governmental regulation, envisions a new and different kind of capitalism. Ramirez's capitalism respects individual potential and human capital, considers equality and fairness, and promotes the abilities of all people, rather than focusing on deeper entrenchment of the elite. Lawless Capitalism meticulously weaves the best thinking of dozens of economists, law professors, sociologists and philosophers into a new conceptualization of an economic rule of law, one that Ramirez fully develops, that offers a better economic way for our nation and the world. Lawless Capitalism is an important book, representing a powerful new voice that literally demands to be heard."

    —Andre Douglas Pond Cummings, Indiana Tech Law School

  • "Ramirez catalogues the many ills and failures in the American economic system, casting a broad net that implicates governing institutions, political and corporate elites, and their policy agendas. He provides a valuable contribution to discussions on reforming capitalism and restoring the foundations of middle class prosperity through a renewed commitment to transparency, economic democracy, and the rule of law."

    —Timothy A. Canova, Nova Southeastern University