3.4.1.3 Global Economic Regulation

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/3413.htm)

There are some global regulatory bodies:

  • The World Trade Organisation (WTO) regulates international trade, to the extent that it has been able to reach agreement with all the countries involved.
  • Representatives of the world’s 20 biggest economies (the G20) make binding agreements with each other, which also affect the rest of the world.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) exerts financial discipline over the many countries that it has lent money to.

These bodies have put some regulations in place but there are gaps and issues:

  • Multinational companies face multiple jurisdictions. For example, Microsoft was subject to American antitrust legislation but was also prosecuted for restrictive practices in Europe (case IP/04/382) – illustrating the difficulty of a global company having to comply with different countries’ requirements and repeatedly being placed in jeopardy.
  • Transnational fraud has become an increasing problem, particularly via the Internet. The practical difficulties of extradition mean that many criminals are able to commit fraud in other countries with de facto immunity from prosecution – though there are exceptions: the so-called “NatWest Three” case was of three British citizens, working for a British company, who were eventually successfully prosecuted in an American court for fraud.  They had to be extradited to face the charges but the process was prolonged and expensive.  Smaller crimes often go unpunished.
  • The global financial crisis of 2007-8 gave an impetus to collective financial regulation, but progress is slow for political reasons: negotiations are needed, to harmonise the rules, as described later (3.5.5).

Politicians find it easier to drum up nationalist sentiment, against the concept of being dominated by other countries, than to try to explain to people the benefits of international cooperation.  Nationalism is a widespread problem, which is addressed in the relevant chapter (6.6.4.2).

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