Tag Archives: international

The East India Company: Capitalism and Colonialism Hand-in-Hand

6 Mar
For the corporation – a revolutionary European invention contemporaneous with the beginnings of European colonialism, and which helped give Europe its competitive edge – has continued to thrive long after the collapse of European imperialism. When historians discuss the legacy of British colonialism in India, they usually mention democracy, the rule of law, railways, tea and cricket. Yet the idea of the joint-stock company is arguably one of Britain’s most important exports to India, and the one that has for better or worse changed South Asia as much any other European idea. Its influence certainly outweighs that of communism and Protestant Christianity, and possibly even that of democracy.
Companies and corporations now occupy the time and energy of more Indians than any institution other than the family. This should come as no surprise: as Ira Jackson, the former director of Harvard’s Centre for Business and Government, recently noted, corporations and their leaders have today “displaced politics and politicians as … the new high priests and oligarchs of our system”. Covertly, companies still govern the lives of a significant proportion of the human race.
The 300-year-old question of how to cope with the power and perils of large multinational corporations remains today without a clear answer: it is not clear how a nation state can adequately protect itself and its citizens from corporate excess. As the international subprime bubble and bank collapses of 2007-2009 have so recently demonstrated, just as corporations can shape the destiny of nations, they can also drag down their economies. In all, US and European banks lost more than $1tn on toxic assets from January 2007 to September 2009. What Burke feared the East India Company would do to England in 1772 actually happened to Iceland in 2008-11, when the systemic collapse of all three of the country’s major privately owned commercial banks brought the country to the brink of complete bankruptcy. A powerful corporation can still overwhelm or subvert a state every bit as effectively as the East India Company did in Bengal in 1765.

H/t 3QD.


How to solve the corporate tax problem – Taxes – Salon.com

11 Nov

This tendency of MNCs to find complementary loopholes among countries harkens back to the pre-globalization era, when multistate companies would shift operations to the lowest-tax states. The race to the bottom of tax revenues was relieved when states pooled their collective bargaining power to create more consistent tax rules.

To end the race to the bottom, states adopted a new approach to taxation. Known as formulary apportionment (FA), companies divide their total tax burden among host states based on the percentage of sales (and sometimes payroll and property) located in each state, rather than on the elusive headquarters’ location. The apportionment approach increases simplicity (which businesses love) and increases tax revenue (which governments love.) That’s what we call a win-win.

Of course, firms would not be happy with the change if it increased their tax burden. A shift to FA could be paired with lower tax rates to be revenue neutral, so America would no longer have the highest corporate tax rate. Policies designed to be revenue neutral, however, should err on the side of the Treasury, especially if we truly want to reduce the deficit.

The best global scenario is for all countries to adopt apportionment, so that MNCs would have one general tax rule to follow, rather than the current system where MNCs have different rules for every country in which they operate.

In the short term a truly global policy is unlikely. But the EU is now considering moving to apportionment, creating an opportunity for the U.S. to collaborate with Europe.

via How to solve the corporate tax problem – Taxes – Salon.com.

America’s Waning Influence Has a Silver Lining – NYTimes.com

2 Nov

…the relative decline of the United States as an international force also comes with a silver lining. For decades, the United States has been the global rescuer of last resort. It is a role that has brought significant costs, both financial and human.

The last few months may well end up being an inflection point, in which the United States, though easily still the world’s leading power, no longer has quite the responsibility or the burden it once did. The pattern has been evident in the Arab Spring, with the American military playing mostly a supporting role in Libya, and now in the European financial crisis, with Asian money coming to aid the Europeans. …

In many ways, the situation is a natural evolution of the campaign promises made by Mr. Obama in 2008, when he vowed to turn away from the Bush administration’s more unilateral approach.

via America’s Waning Influence Has a Silver Lining – NYTimes.com.

At OccupyDC, Egypt’s revolutionaries chide U.S. – Occupy Wall Street – Salon.com

24 Oct

Three of Egypt’s so-called Facebook revolutionaries told a crowd of 100 people who gathered Sunday afternoon in Washington’s Freedom Plaza that the U.S. government has abandoned their peaceful revolution in favor of an alliance with the country’s still-powerful military. (Video here.)

“We hoped U.S. policy would change” said Esraa Abdel Fatah, known as the Facebook girl for creating a social media page that helped mobilize a general strike over workers rights in 2008. “We hope they would support the people, not the government. But U.S. policy supports the military now, the same way it was supporting Mubarak.”

via At OccupyDC, Egypt’s revolutionaries chide U.S. – Occupy Wall Street – Salon.com.

Mauritius in Transition?

7 Mar

Mauritius is a small island nation off the east coast of Africa with a population of 1.3 million. With no exploitable natural resources, the smart money would have bet against Maritius when it became independent of Britain in 1968. The smart money would have been wrong. At the time of independence it had a per capita income of $400; now it’s $6,700 and the country has 87% home owndership, compared to 79% in the USA, home of the meltdown. According to economist Joseph Stiglitz, who recently visited, Mauritius provides “free education through university for all of its citizens, transportation for school children, and free health care – including heart surgery – for all.”

They must know something the USofA doesn’t.

& maybe they’re not as deeply mired in the ways of a world that’s gone forever.