Trade Treaties and the Coming Rule of the Global Corporatocracy

Lambert here: I’d make a minor copy edit, underlined, in paragraph two. Herewith:

The ultimate goal of these treaties is to reconfigure the legal apparatus and superstructures that govern national, regional and global trade and business – for the primary, if not exclusive, benefit of the owners of the world’s largest multinational corporations.

Soylent Green is people, after all.

By Don Quijones, freelance writer and translator in Barcelona, Spain. Raging Bull-Shit is his modest attempt to challenge the wishful thinking and scrub away the lathers of soft soap peddled by our political and business leaders and their loyal mainstream media. Originally published at Testosterone Pit.

Quietly, subtly, almost imperceptibly, the rules governing global trade and financial markets are changing. It is not happening by accident, but by wilful design. Despite the enormous impact it will have on all our lives, the public is not being consulted on any aspects of the process. Most people are not even aware it is happening.

The main driver of this change are the bilateral and multilateral trade and investment treaties being negotiated in complete secrecy and behind closed doors between corporate lobbyists, free trade activists and our own elected “representatives” (a term I use in the loosest possible sense, especially given the context). The ultimate goal of these treaties is to reconfigure the legal apparatus and superstructures that govern national, regional and global trade and business – for the primary, if not exclusive, benefit of the world’s largest multinational corporations.

Corporations have long been powerful economic and political entities, but in recent decades some have grown to dwarf even middling-sized national economies. According to a ranking published by Global Trends, 58 percent of the world’s biggest 150 economic entities in 2012 were corporations. They include oil, natural gas, and mining majors, banks and insurance firms, telecommunications giants, supermarket behemoths, car manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies.

Changing the Law

Right now, the representatives of many of these firms are engaged in late-stage negotiations with the U.S. and European political leaders that would make it financially calamitous for a nation-state to take any actions against the interest of corporations. If passed — and at this rate, it almost certainly will be — it will be the biggest bilateral trade deal in the history of mankind.

What’s up for grabs in the innocuously named “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” (TTIP) is nothing short of the control and ownership of virtually every economic sector and public service in both Europe and the U.S. – with the exception, at the insistence of the U.S. government, of the financial services industry. Unbeknownst to almost all Europeans, the European Commission has shown a keen interest in opening up all public services to foreign corporate ownership, from health care to education, pensions to water provision.

Wikileaks also revealed that a group of 50 nations, fronting themselves as “Really Good Friends of Services” (who said lobbyists don’t have a sense of humour?), is secretly negotiating the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). The countries taking part in negotiations include the U.S., the member nations of the EU (who are naturally leading the proceedings), and U.S.-aligned nations of Australia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, South Korea, and Switzerland. Conspicuously absent from the list are the five BRICS nations Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa and Latin American members of Mercosur.

Based on the draft copy recently released by Wikileaks, the treaty seeks to (among many other things):

  • “Lock in” the privatisations of services – even in cases where private service delivery has failed – meaning governments can never return water, energy, health, education or other services to public hands.
  • Restrict a government’s right to regulate stronger standards in the public’s interest. For example, it will affect environmental regulations, licensing of health facilities and laboratories, waste disposal centres, power plants, school and university accreditation and broadcast licenses.
  • Specifically limit the ability of governments to regulate the financial services industry at exactly the time when the global economy is still recovering from a crisis caused by financial deregulation.

The trade treaties are not just about rewriting laws; they are also about enforcing them. As the author of Debt Generation, David Malone, explained in a recent talk on bilateral and multilateral trade agreements (essential viewing for anyone interested in the subject), what gives trade treaties such as TTIP and TISA their “claws and teeth” is the inclusion of an innocuous-sounding provision called the “investor-state dispute settlement.” This effectively allows private companies to sue entire nations if they feel that a law lost them money on their investment.

No Trial, No Judge, No Jury

Say, for example, a newly elected government decides — not unreasonably — that the involvement of price-gouging U.S. firms in the nation’s health service is not such a good idea after all. Each and every one of those U.S. firms will now be able to launch expensive legal battles, potentially for billions of pounds, in the name of foregone profits.

The case would not be heard in a court of law, under the scrutiny of a judge and jury, but rather in front of arbitration panels made up of three professional arbitrators — one representing the company, one representing the country and the other chosen by the first two to sit as president of the panel. None of these arbitrators are trained judges; they are private individuals often representing some of the biggest international corporate law firms, mostly from the U.S. and Europe.

The secrecy of the arbitration process is, in Malone’s words, “mind-blowing.” No citizen of any affected country can demand leverage or accountability over the proceedings. The arbitrators meet behind closed doors and do not even need to inform the people of a country that their government has been taken to arbitration.

Advocates of the system claim that international arbitration is needed because national courts are not sufficiently neutral. While there may be some truth in that, investment arbitrators themselves are hardly neutral guardians, as Corporate Europe reports:

Arbitrators, to a far greater degree than judges, have a financial and professional stake in the system. They earn handsome rewards for their services. Unlike judges, there is no flat salary, no cap on financial remuneration.

Arbitrators’ fees can range from $375 to $700 per hour depending on where the arbitration takes place. How much an arbitrator earns per case will depend on the case’s length and complexity, but for a $100 million dispute, arbitrators could earn on average up to $350,000. It can be far more. The presiding arbitrator in the case between Chevron and Texaco v. Ecuador, received $939,000…

Evidence shows that many of the arbitrators enjoy close links with the corporate world and share businesses’ viewpoint in relation to the importance of protecting investors’ profits. Given the one-sided nature of the system, where only investors can sue and only states are sued, a pro-business outlook could be interpreted as a strategic choice for an ambitious investment lawyer keen to make a lucrative living.

Revolving Doors, Conflicts of Interests

The arbitration industry, very much like our political systems, is rife with conflicts of interest and revolving doors. To wit, from the Transnational Institute:

  • Arbitrators tend to defend private investor rights above public interest, revealing an inherent pro-corporate bias. Several prominent arbitrators have been members of the board of major multinational corporations, including those which have filed cases against developing nations.
  • Law firms with specialised arbitration departments seek out every opportunity to sue countries – encouraging lawsuits against governments in crisis, most recently Greece and Libya, and promoting use of multiple investment treaties to secure the best advantages for corporations… In short, investment lawyers have become the new international ‘ambulance chasers’, in a similar way to lawyers who chase hospital wagons to the emergency room in search for legal clients.
  • Arbitration law firms as well as elite arbitrators have used positions of influence to actively lobby against any reforms to the international investment regime, notably in the US and the EU. Their actions, backed by corporations, succeeded in preventing changes that would enhance government’s policy space to regulate in the US investment treaties that had been proposed by US President Barack Obama when he came to office.

The rise of investor-state dispute settlements and the broad application of arbitration procedures are the ultimate victory in the global corporatocracy’s decades-long coup d’état. If allowed to take universal effect, the system will impose above you, me, and our governments a rigid framework of international corporate law designed to exclusively protect the interests of corporations, relieving them of all financial risk and social and environmental responsibility. From then on, every investment they make will effectively be backstopped by our governments (and by extension, you and me); it will be too-big-to-fail writ on an unimaginable scale.

And yet, in the most perverse of ironies, it is a system that appears to be almost universally endorsed by our political leaders. It is an irony that was not lost on the Spanish arbitrator Juan Fernandez-Armesto, who had the following to say:

When I wake up at night and think about arbitration, it never ceases to amaze me that sovereign states have agreed to investment arbitration at all […]. Three private individuals are entrusted with the power to review, without any restriction or appeal procedure, all actions of the government, all decisions of the courts, and all laws and regulations emanating from parliament.

As I warned in early November 2013, the global corporatocracy is almost fully operational. The intentions of those negotiating the multiple trade treaties are now crystal clear: to place complete power and control over our economies in the hands of the largest global corporations, many of which bear the lion’s share of responsibility for the economic and environmental mess we’re already in.

In the meantime, the clock continues to tick down. At any moment, a few quiet strokes of a pen behind the tightly closed doors of a luxury conference room could usher in a new age of corporate domination. With it will come a new kind of dystopia, bearing an uncanny likeness to the inverted totalitarianism foreseen by Sheldon Wolin.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. mellon

      When i tell people that the free trade agreements and US negotiating positions are the reason the US cannot have affordable health care, they don’t believe me. They have never heard of “standstill” clauses, “negative lists” or “investor-state”. But obviously some people do because when I am on blogs and mention these things, my posts get targeted for down voting.

      So, people are going around suppressing other people’s attempts to tell others.

      There should be some kind of major expose of what they are doing and the people responsible should be punished for t****** and crimes against humanity.

      Because thats what it is. the health care situation is killing a lot of people. And they are trying to use the sleaziest pretexts and tricks to lock it in. Look at this news story.

  1. Banger

    This movement has been going on for a long time and was always inevitable. Power has been moving from the nation-state to, on the one hand, the corporate sector and, on the other, to multi-lateral regulatory organizations not only like the IMF, WTO but also less formal moveable feasts that include a variety of gatherings and emergent networks set up at conferences, trade negotiations and various semi-social events like Davos.

    The sad part of all this is that it is both so obvious but we are so locked into the culture of denial and not wanting to see patterns (conspiracy theories) and, generally, avoiding thinking about things like eroded civil liberties, and democratic institutions that are dead or dying (not much has been done about the fact our elections are open to being fixed and have been fixed). Look at the Iraq War–what happened there? Where have the prosecutions gone for fraud, human rights violations and the spectacle of a war that the facts show was fought, largely, to enrich cronies of politicians and “defense” contractors. Since that was easily done why would any of us expect any kind of law enforcement when the Finance oligarchs held-up the country and the world while Uncle Sam was fighting a phony series of wars against largely imaginary threats? The finance oligarchs basically pointed a gun at the head of the feeble government and demanded money and immunity from prosecution and they got it–in exchange they agreed to tone it down a bit and not completely destroy the world-economy. But they showed who was in charge–2008 was the final nail in the coffin that signaled the end of the former USA.

    The alarm bells have been ringing on the right for quite some time–it is the right who has been strongly critical of globalism by their apparent paranoia about “one-world government”, globalism and so on. The left laughed at the silly hayseeds who didn’t listen to NPR. The left, except for brief outbursts on its fringes (Seattle, Occupy), has been asleep since Nixon left office and largely oblivious to real political changes. Most liberals still think the system works, still thinks we have a Constitution in effect, still think they can win power through endless sermonizing and, in recent years, making jokes like powerless kids in high school who snicker at the back of the auditorium making fun of silly speeches by administrators, teachers, and “serious” speakers.

    Political power is a tangible thing and, on the purest level, consists of rule by force. Whether you are a mlitia or a corporation you have power if you can force people to do what you want them to do. Exxon can influence policies of many governments through bribery, physical threats,, but mainly it uses its treasure to manipulate the public through propaganda and misinformation for which it spends lavishly. And all of this works such that intimidation and force are seldom needed to further their power. The corporate elites are now in a position to dominate information dissemination through not only commercials and “news” but also popular entertainments.

    But, really, why should we object to the domination of corporate power? Corporations deliver the goods–they are able to provide us with what we want. We want trinkets, toys, entertainments, and cultural narratives that tell us we’re special both as individuals and as consumer societies living at the end of history–we have found paradise and we are living in it. We really want to believe that. If we are unhappy we believe it is our fault. If we feel compassion maybe we can take a pill–I’m sure they are working on the blue one.

    1. rob

      Yeah, why should we have a problem being owned by a corporation?
      After all ;I.G.Farben took good care of their “workers” at Auschwitz…. the corporations who owned those slaves they brought across the atlantic, were well insured.The corporations who the American military might works for… are really the “good guys”….
      What is freedom, but an antiquated idea ,anyway..
      Won’t everyone’s children be better off, just being owned from the cradle to the grave?
      But aside from a great big F’N ,”HELL NO”,
      One visually telling scene was in a documentary called “the Corporation”,Where in a meeting room, akin to A U.N. conference hall,
      were podiums for countries representatives, among those for corporate representatives… the big guys are nation states.,with more clout….When will NATO include them in their list of those who when attacked, all member nations will come to their aid..?

      1. TedWa

        Love the sarcasm rob ! Nice response. I was hoping that the authors statement was sarcasm to the nth degree, but, maybe not.
        “All that’s required for evil to triumph is for men of good will to do nothing”

      2. mellon

        How does balance of trade fit into this system? I keep hearing that TISA, (and before it GATS, by allowing lots of firms from the developing world to bring in their workers from the developing world, will improve the access of Western firms to their countries, and improve the balance of trade.

        i read yesterday that the EU is willing to drop investor state from all FTAs including past ones, but the US is blocking this!
        Also, in the same article, a real bombshell- Please write about this- please- evidently, the US has a special secure reading room which is the only place that Congresspeople and Senators can read the draft FTAs- It is set up that legislators can only read these FTAs alone, with no staff, and no copying, computers, no anything! i had heard people say this before, but never knew the specifics!

        The US doesnt even trust our own legislators. This restriction virtually guarantees that US legislators will pass FTAs without even reading them!
        Warning signs-
        ‘selling insurance across state lines” is being pushed as part of the Obamacare fix and that absolutely cannot be allowed to happen, because of the fact that thats what EU insurers want to come in to the US and sell low value, Third World style health insurance. It will have major investor-state implications. If they manage to get it passed it will be the last nail in the coffin of the country’s hopes for affordable health care.

        Politicians are pretending that they don’t know about GATS’s standstill – for example, of all people, bernie Sanders. Watching the healthcare forum, I could see him navigating around discussing it. Something is not right there. How could a state ignore standstill when the US is pushing it in FTAs everywhere? Of course it applies, so I think we should assume that any politician who says single payer might be in the future or who pretends such agreements do not exist or does not apply (by saying “states could pursue single payer” is part of an intentional coverup.
        here are some informative new videos:

        There was a series of talks at the about TISA at the end of the last year which are very much worth watching:

        Start here – – watch the other videos in the series.. too, same day.

        There is a list on youtube, see user PSIglobalunion

        I posted some of the other URLs yesterday.

        Also, the TTIP chemical/food stuff and the TTIP fracking stuff are really quite important. And of course, the two health care/FTA nightmares, health insurance, and drugs

    2. susan the other

      Great comment, Banger. Now I understand your comment of a few days ago to the effect that the mispractice of capitalism has made us paranoid. However, we really should all be frightened at the possibility of receiving the kind of justice just given to Ecuador. Raging Bullshit is a little late to this party. Quijones might want to look at all the discord in the TPP before he assumes that the EU with all its political turmoil is gonna roll over and play dead. Even if these absurd treaties get signed they will fail. They will cause a lot of grief, but they will fail. Just think of the logical ending to the brave new world of corporate law enforcement – when all those corporations start to eat each other.

      1. susan the other

        Like when big oil and gas have polluted the land and water so bad that big ag can’t grow anything. There are a zillion scenarios waiting to play out. Name your favorite contradiction.

      2. Banger

        I think you are right. Somehow I believe that even all this negative shit will lead to something really good–I don’t know why I think that–I just have faith in humanity despite appearances–if not, I’m sure there will be a blue pill to ease the pain a little.

      3. Nathanael

        Correct, Susan. These attempted treaties are a sign of overreach; they have failure baked into them.

        ” Even if these absurd treaties get signed they will fail. They will cause a lot of grief, but they will fail. Just think of the logical ending to the brave new world of corporate law enforcement – when all those corporations start to eat each other.”

        There are a few other scenarios which could cause this stuff to collapse, but in every possible scenario, it collapses. And quickly. You can’t force people to deal with absurdity.

        One of the ways it could collapse involves the rise of warlords whose troops are personally loyal, because they can beat a corporation which abuses its employees any day of the week. We’re actually witnessing this play out in the Middle East.

    3. zapster

      The alarm bells have been ringing on the right for quite some time–it is the right who has been strongly critical of globalism by their apparent paranoia about “one-world government”, globalism and so on.

      Finally, anecdotal evidence exists that such an interpretation was intended by adherents of neoliberal economic ideology, who dominated negotiations over the GATS and financial services texts. House Speaker Newt Gingrich told insurance executives in 1995 that he couldn’t get rid of Medicare immediately “because we don’t think it’s politically smart.” But, he said, he could cause Medicare to “wither on the vine” by having for-profit plans compete against it and cripple it (20). In sum, it appears that a WTO tribunal could find ample reason for concluding that the United States intended to commit Medicare to the GATS, and its commitments under current agreements obligate it to maintain Medicare’s 1998 level of privatization. Nick Scala GAT and Health Reform

      Yeah, they’re “alarmed” alright. They simply got what they wanted and it’s blown up in their faces.
      The whole deregulation/liberalization project has been overwhelmingly driven by the right from the very beginning, including “globalization.” The only thing they’re afraid of is that it’s failure is rapidly ensuring that they’ll be dead in the water for the next hundred years.
      Once again, reality really does have a liberal bias.

  2. grayslady

    This is one of the clearest, simplest explanations I’ve seen of the frightening ramifications of these treaties. As I read the piece, I kept thinking of how this would have an impact on states’ rights in the US. My feeling is that states’ rights would be obliterated. Maybe that’s the pushback we should be using in the US against these treaties. It’s pretty clear in Europe that, in spite of what the Eurocrats want, the people are voting for a renewal of nationalism, no matter how ugly some of the associated issues espoused by those parties.

    1. Massinissa

      Can you blame them? If the choice is Sovereignty or Rights for Immigrants, it should be obvious which is more important.

      It sucks that Europe cant have both but thats how it is.

      1. grayslady

        I don’t blame the European voters in the least. We have the same problems here–and the same dearth of political alternatives.

      2. mellon

        the new trade agreements MAY – it seems to me- be attempting to replace immigration (which doesnt do anything for the balance of trade) with guest workers under “the fourth mode of supply” and people who come in for several years that way wont be able to immigrate, they have to go back. They will be on a very short leash.


        Also, the previous agreement, GATS- “mode four” movement of natural persons for trade

    2. Carla

      Re: States rights. Ohio is already a microcosm of the global corporatocracy/kleptocracy. We’re trying to get a Voting Rights Act on the ballot here. Despite a vote of the people in 2008 to cap interest rates at 28% statewide to rein in payday lenders, these vultures found a loophole that allows them to extort more than 400% per year from our poorest and most vulnerable citizens. Then they brought in auto title loan shops, which have spread like wildfire. The Ohio Supreme Court just decided it’s up to the Ohio legislature to fix that law. Ohio is a sick joke.

    3. digi_owl

      As of late i have found myself drawing strong parallels between the rising nationalism within EU, and the “states rights” troubles that lead to the forming of the confederacy and the US civil war.

      It just hope there won’t be a shooting war over leaving the EU.

  3. flora

    If this passes and national populaces have no way to affect through democratic means any change to a system that harms them and so they protest, what police force does GlobalCorp Inc. have, what army? Do the feckless politicians understand they are agreeing to bludgeon their own citizens for a foreign power? This is the march of folly. Mad folly.

      1. Nathanael

        Remember, though:
        (1) mercenaries are always less effective than loyal troops;
        (2) Blackwater actually abuses its own mercenaries.

        A warlord who treats his own troops well will have tremendous opporunities against the corrupt leadership who disrepsect their own troops — think of Julius Caesar. Or Mao.

        This makes for dangerous times.

  4. TedWa

    These treaties are not being written by human beings, they’re being written by dictators.
    If you don’t think the plan is to reduce us all to “things” then you really aren’t analyzing the situation properly. These aren’t beneficent corporations intent on the public good. All the blood shed for our freedoms over the last 200+ years weren’t shed so that we, their progeny, would willingly hand these freedoms held so dear to nameless and faceless corporations – sealing our own fates to the winds and tides of a global cabals greedy reach. Climate change won’t stop them. Financial meltdowns won’t stop them. Nothing will stop them from extracting every last resource from the land and the people that inhabit them. We are only seeing a small window of what their goals are – from Mexicans fleeing a country whose agricultural independence was stolen by NAFTA, to S American countries being sued for cutting into the profits of oil companies in defending their lands, cultures and heritage. They want a global population indebted to them. They want to control all fresh water rights and agriculture making us pay dearly for these basic necessities as they make the world more and more uninhabitable for the 99%.

    Obama and the DOJ placed too big to fail corporations above the law making them, The Law. For that he should be impeached IMHO. It’s treasonous. And now he wants to push through these free-trade agreements further insuring the demise of the freedoms of the 99%. He seems to think these corporations are beneficent by nature -so maybe I’m wrong and he’s right. But as stated, we’ve seen what even small amounts of global power handed to these corporation has wrought in Mexico and S America.

    “Democracy, national sovereignty and global economic integration are mutually incompatible. It’s possible to have any 2 but not all 3. It’s the inescapable trilemma of a world economy” – Dani Rodrik He is the among the 100 most influential economists in the world according to IDEAS/RePEc
    You can’t have all 3. So, which 2 would you pick? I know which 2 I would.

    1. digi_owl

      Oh, they are human beings alright. But human beings who think they are doing the long term best for the world by following the religious teachings of the supposed science of economics.

      1. TedWa

        “following the religious teachings of the supposed science of economics”
        Nothing like having economic projection results they control. Fixing the results is their “cure”. Just ask Monsanto and ilk.

    2. mellon

      Transnational corporations are above the nations.

      People belong to their little nations, people are seen as commodities, like any other object.

  5. jb

    The OMFIF, the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (comprised of central banks and sovereign wealth funds) has published a report on June 16 2014 titled “Central Banks Switch to Equities in Diversification Move” – The OMFIF has given their report multiple titles actually. The formal title is Global Public Investors – the new force in markets.

    The opening salvo begins:
    “Central banks around the world, including in Europe, are buying increasing volumes of equities as part of diversification by official asset holders that are now a global force on international capital markets. This is among the findings of Global Public Investor (GPI) 2014, the first comprehensive survey of $29.1tn worth of investments held by 400 public sector institutions in 162 countries.The report, focusing on investments by 157 central banks, 156 public pension funds and 87 sovereign funds, underlines growing similarities among different categories of public entities owning assets equivalent to 40% of world output….In the aftermath of the financial crisis, different forms of ‘state capitalism’ have come to the fore, the report says: ‘Whether or not this trend is a good thing may be open to question. What is incontestable is that it has happened.’

    Continuing on:

    “One of the reasons for the move into equities reflects central banks’ efforts to compensate for lost revenue on their reserves, caused by sharp falls in interest rates driven by official institutions’ own efforts to repair the financial crisis…GPIs (global public institutions) as a whole appear to have built up their investments in publicly-quoted equities by at least $1tn in recent years.

    In the field of corporate governance and responsible equity ownership, the report recommends public investors should step up engagement with private sector shareholders to ensure appropriate stewardship.

    The survey emphasizes the two-edged nature of large volumes of extra liquidity held by GPIs. These assets have been built up partly as a result of efforts to alleviate the financial crisis, through foreign exchange intervention by central banks in emerging market economies or quantitative easing by central banks in the main developed countries. But deployment of these funds on capital markets can drive up asset prices and is thus a source of further risks. ‘Many of these challenges [faced by public entities] are self-feeding’, the report says. ‘The same authorities that are responsible for maintaining financial stability are often the owners of the large funds that have the potential to cause problems.’

    The study highlights how a recession-induced decline in interest rates in the major reserve currencies – the dollar and the euro – has had a seriously negative effect on the profitability of reserve holdings by central banks, adding to the drive for diversification.

    The report adds that GPIs can be increasingly expected to have their behavior and performance measured against wider public goals. ‘Asset managers may face efforts to influence their investments in areas like infrastructure or social security systems. Public investors of all categories may be called upon to take part in global and regional safety nets, such as through reserve asset pooling, working alongside institutions like the International Monetary Fund.’ It concludes: ‘Public asset managers need better to understand and manage the political fields into which they will inevitably be drawn.’


    Markets are becoming ever more tightly coupled as a result of this behavioral response of GPIs to save and subsidize TBTF institutions by ZIRP-ing and NIRP-ing interest rates following the financial crisis. Other responses and outcomes were possible, but this is the one we are stuck with. GPIs are fast becoming majority stakeholders in the global equity markets. As stakeholders, they will play an increasingly larger role in determining the outcomes and long term goals of the capital markets (capex, R&D, etc). And TTIP treaties that grant authorities and powers that supecede sovereigns and other regulatory bodies means that central planners, policymakers, GPIs in general will determine the distribution and direction of most everything.

    In this light, it is possible to view global corporate entities with powers and authorities that supersede all governing and regulatory bodies as tumorous. Governing and regulatory bodies will be powerless to respond to any inflammatory signals from global corporate entities, the global corporate entities will be entitled by international law to do pretty much anything they please.

    1. Banger

      Good exposition of an important component of the problem we face, i.e., intigration of the Imperial order. States become interlinked with the fate of major corporations and big financial players thus any action taken by a state has to be carefully scrutinized for its effect on markets. What I find most interesting is the structure which is very different from the old Emperor at the top of a hierarchy towards an emergent virtual Emperor which I believe will be, eventually, located in software. To be specific, software will take over increasing amounts of major decisions in the world as it offers us the only way of keeping track of huge numbers of forces and transactions. And here there is a slight ray of hope–certainly not for democracy or anything resembling that because that historical moment appears to be over for now. Something resembling good public policy may come out of this movement towards encasing world problems within a logical framework. At present the framework games the system in favor of rather narrow interests of a small number of people–but eventually things like climate change and other systemic problems will have to be taken into account–then the stark choice remains–if you are going to have humanity organized for the benefit of the very few then why not just delete most of the world’s population once machines have become adept enough at producing useful products? I am absolutely certain this idea is being entertained today in gatherings of oligarchs. On the other hand, some of these oligarchs may understand that life lived in such a brutally selfish way goes against what we know scientifically about the nature of human beings, i.e., what makes them happy and so on. We are social and naturally compassionate unless someone beats it out of us.

      1. flora

        “To be specific, software will take over increasing amounts of major decisions in the world as it offers us the only way of keeping track of huge numbers of forces and transactions. ”

        Digital currency, corporate issued ‘bitcoin’, would be so helpful in fulfilling their globalist project.

  6. Edward Kernish

    I have got to keep this short. As an educator (retired now) since 1966 in schools, colleges, and corporate America, I have noticed how totally out of touch we educators have been with ‘real world politik’. The metaphor of this proposed or actual structural corporate integration as a cancer could not be more threatening. Unless there is some way to educate the body politic that starving this corporate ‘cancer’ will require drastic lifestyle changes coupled with energized grass-roots activism (ie., stop buying cheap shit made in foreign sweatshops, eating the processed food and entertainment, and relying on standardized health care among other radical consumer strategies) we will, over time, surrender what little personal freedoms we have remaining. It isn’t government or corporate hegemony we need fear; it is the subtle morphing of one into the other. That new emerging entity depends upon us, its host,
    to supply its sustenance. Trouble is, if the cancer or parasite grows out of control it eventually kills the host…all of us.

    1. Nathanael

      The parasite is already out of control. You’ve described its host wrong though. Its host is the legal system.

      Once it destroys the legal system, the parasite of corporate “cancer” will die very quickly. It will be killed off by warlords following an older set of social organization principles.

      I don’t look forward to this, but I’m kind of thinking the way to prepare is to have a local community which is valuable and coherent enough to be respected and absorbed intact by any smart warlord.

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