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International Political Economy

The recently concluded G8 meeting at Lough Erne took an unprecedented leap by turning the focus on corporate governance. Among the greatest institutional challenges of our times, is the regulation of multinational corporations which operate across national borders and have the ability to shift labour and capital more than ever before. The G8 agenda focussed on open trade, fair taxes and increased transparency (the 3Ts agenda). Open trade- a part of all multilateral meetings saw the usual narrative of commitment to more trade with lesser transaction costs. However, the need for fair taxes and transparency of corporations took centre-stage for the first time. The G8 expressed their commitment to establish automatic exchange of information between different national tax authorities and their support to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to develop a multilateral system to implement it. The G8 also proposed a common template that will require MNCs to report profits made and taxes paid across the world. The rationale behind these initiatives is to prevent corporations to actively avoid tax through tax havens and shifting profits. There was also a mention of making relevant price information available across jurisdictions to implement international transfer pricing rules. OECD in the recent years has been working on multiple initiatives to counter the problem of base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS). The G20 also expressed support for OECD’s Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information which has been tasked to create international standards of tax reporting in 2008 and 2012.

Bulgaria’s constitution includes a wide range of social rights. However, the ‘democratic, law-governed and social state’ has been characterized as ‘chronically incapable of coping with its social problems or improving its level of economic prosperity’. Moreover, the Bulgarian neoliberal ‘minimal state’ often cannot provide its citizens even with basic necessities, such as food, electricity, central heating, or medical care. The post-socialist radical and extensive privatization and economic restructuringhave led to systemic impoverishment, decimating entire sectors of the economy and society. The state often has appeared to be merely a prize that players try to capture rather than a guarantor of law and the basic services necessary for civilized and decent life. The post-socialist reformshave resulted in acute inequalities and disenfranchisement. With public discontent seemingly on the rise, strong social movements of ‘democratic populism’ and ‘redemptive radicalism’ increasingly capture the public vote.

Occupy has spotlighted the super-elite, but the ‘average Brit’ that is pitted against this class does not exist. For the struggle to empower all citizens to succeed in Britain, mapping actual wealth distribution is critical. [This is the second of three pieces exploring wealth distribution in Britain. It sits within our Democratic Wealth debate, in partnership with OurKingdom.]

Newly confirmed as US Secretary of State, John Kerry delivered his first policy speech last week, making the case for a renewed and proactive American diplomacy. Directing his remarks to the US Congress – and to Beijing’s leaders – more than to his actual audience at the University of Virginia, his message was urgent: “This is a time to continue to engage for the sake of the safety and the economic health of our country. This is not optional. It is a necessity.” Given the looming March 1 deadline for across-the-board sequestration which would reduce State Department operations by $850 million and foreign assistance by $1.7 billion, the US’ chief diplomat used his speech to defend the foreign policy budget against spending cuts, portraying foreign affairs as the guarantor of American economic prosperity.

Spain has now been in recession for almost five years, and has had to face challenges and tackle each of them in very different ways. In the beginning, the concern with national public spending, led to severe budget cuts in 2011 and 2012. Later, the need to reform the labour market emerged in order make it more flexible and competitive, prompting a general strike in March of this year. A few months ago doubts about the health of the Spanish financial system surfaced. Would Spain be capable of recapitalising its banks without putting its overall solvency at risk? European partners stepped in and structured a bailout of Spanish banks that attempted to de-couple financial and sovereign risk. Today we read …

Bestselling author, financial economist (and Oxford alumnus) Dambisa Moyo argues in her new book that the rise of China is generating unanticipated consequences for the international system and that no one — bar the Chinese Communist Party — is actively thinking about how to handle the long term fallout of these seismic shifts. I debated some of these ideas with her on Radio 4’s Today Programme a couple of days ago. One of Moyo’s controversial arguments is that China’s ascendency doesn’t just put tremendous pressure on commodity markets, but is likely to represent such a big demand shock that supply of key resources simply can’t keep up. The consequence, for Moyo, is then that as countries — and the planet …

Much to Angela Merkel’s chagrin, international political momentum seems to have swung rather decidedly from ‘austerity’ to ‘growth’. The transformation had been underway for some time – playing out in debates across the economics blogosphere – but the elections in France and Greece clearly accelerated this evolution. The recent G8 summit communiqué – which leads with the phrase “Our imperative is to promote growth and jobs” – epitomizes the shift. In terms of our collective understanding of economics and how to fight recessions, I think there’s actually a lot less here than meets the eye, and indeed a lot of rather meaningless talk. To begin with, as Tyler Cowen has pointed out, ‘austerity’ means many different things to different people, and …

Countries in the periphery of the Eurozone face one of the toughest dilemmas in recent history. Each of them with their particularities, Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain all share the challenge of dealing with the consequences of sustained large current account deficits, the accumulation of public and private debt and a protracted banking crisis. On top of these troubles, they lack an independent monetary policy, possess minimal fiscal maneuverability due to already unsustainable levels of public debt, and have to work under a marked sense of urgency due to painful and untenable unemployment rates. Their dilemma is over whether to implement further structural reform in the frame of the Eurozone, knowing that these measures could take longer to take effect …