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John Christensen
The National Competitiveness Revolution and the Race to Below the Bottom


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Governments and societies have been subverted by the view that – as US President Bill Clinton once put it – a nation is "like a big corporation competing in the global marketplace." The political rhetoric of "competitiveness" has taken as unquestionable fact the notion that competition between nations is a valuable social and economic good, rendering policy-makers unable or unwilling to respond appropriately to domestic economic challenges such as setting up fair tax systems or implementing appropriate financial regulation. The logical outcome of this "competitiveness" drive will not be zero tax rates on capital but a spiraling race to below the bottom leading to negative tax rates, as countries bid against each other using direct and indirect subsidies to attract investment. Yet, the intellectual foundations of the whole "competitiveness" agenda rest on economic fallacies and confusions, which few people have thought to challenge.
Selected publications
  • Shaxson, N.: Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World London: Vintage Books, 2011.

  • Rixen, T.: The Political Economy of International Tax Governance. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2008.

  • Davies, W.: The Limits of NeoLiberalism: Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition. London: Sage, 2014.

    Suggested publication for preparatory reading
  • Shaxson, N., Christensen, J.: The Finance Curse: How Oversized Finance Sectors Attack Democracy and Corrupt Economics. Commonwealth Publishing, 2013.

    Lecture notes
  • The Finance Curse and Competitiveness. Presentation at Max Planck Institute.

    Press release
  • Bullough, O.: The Fall of Jersey: How a Tax Haven Goes Bust. The Guardian, December 8, 2015.

    John Christensen directs the research and advocacy work of the global Tax Justice Network. He has devoted his career to investigating the impact of tax havens on globalization processes. His research on tax havens and offshore finance has been widely published in books and academic journals, and he has taken part in many films, television documentaries, and radio programs.
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