Trade deals were hammered out in secret by multinationals at the expense of workers and citizens. Benefits must be shared if the global economy is to work
Fifteen years ago, I published Globalisation and Its Discontents, a book that sought to explain why there was so much dissatisfaction with globalisation within the developing countries. Quite simply, many believed that the system was rigged against them, and global trade agreements were singled out for being particularly unfair.
Now discontent with globalisation has fuelled a wave of populism in the US and other advanced economies, led by politicians who claim that the system is unfair to their countries. In the US, President Donald Trump insists that America’s trade negotiators were snookered by those from Mexico and China.
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Social protections can best be upheld through international cooperation. Labour should clearly back the single market and the customs union
British politics is polarised on nearly every axis, so it is strange how little conflict there is between Labour and the Conservatives on the biggest issue: the terms of departure from the EU. Jeremy Corbyn’s challenges to Theresa May over Brexit negotiations at prime minister’s questions last week felt remarkable because he so rarely opens battle on that front. Labour has not obstructed Tory legislation enabling the very hardest of Brexits. The frontbench say they would pursue a different model, putting “jobs first”. But whips have instructed Labour MPs to sit on their hands as the Tory agenda is enacted.
Mr Corbyn’s views in the area are vague, except to insist that for democracy’s sake, the referendum verdict must be honoured. That is a sensible starting point for the leader of a national party, especially one that represents many areas that voted leave. But ending EU membership leaves a spectrum of options, notably in the question of the single market and customs union. The Tories are dedicated to rupture from both; Labour equivocates.
The economist and and author of Globalisation and its Discontents talks to the Guardian’s Larry Elliott about why he considers Donald Trump unfit to be US president. He says stagnant incomes, the opioid crisis and falling life expectancies all pointed towards a political problem in the US but no one imagined it leading to a Trump presidency
US president’s tirade against predatory economic policies comes just hours after he heaped praise on China
Donald Trump has abruptly ended the diplomatic streak he displayed on his 12-day tour of Asia by launching a tirade against “violations, cheating or economic aggression” in the region, just hours after heaping lavish praise on China.
Speaking at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) conference in Da Nang, Vietnam, on Friday, the US president’s words had the tone of a fierce reprimand. The speech was clearly, sometimes explicitly, focused on China and other countries he blamed for predatory economic policies, accusing them of having “stripped” jobs, factories and industries out of the United States.
How serious are the allegations?
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Allowing the very richest to secede from the rest of society and choose the jurisdiction they operate under has led to an astonishing rise in global inequality
The millions of leaked files in the Paradise Papers once again shine a bright light on where the uber-elite stash their cash. Until very recently the hidden web of investments made by the super-rich operated in the comforting darkness offered by secretive tax shelters. The disinfecting sunlight provided by whistleblowing-led investigations since 2013 has fundamentally altered how the world looks at, and regulates, tax affairs. Last year’s Panama Papers cost the leaders of Iceland and Pakistan their jobs. More than a dozen nations have changed their laws and the offshore law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers closed offices in tax havens. It is work that is both necessary and brave: one of the journalists involved in investigating the Panama Papers was blown up by a car bomb last month.
This latest dump of data centres around the Bermudan law firm Appleby, a 119-year-old operation favoured by the global super-rich and big corporations, as well as the Singaporean company Asiaciti Trust and the mostly opaque company registries of 19 tax havens. The first stories have already generated global headlines: about why millions of pounds from the Queen’s private estate went into an offshore portfolio which included an investment in the retailer BrightHouse, criticised for exploiting poor families with high-interest loans to purchase white goods; and about why anti-poverty campaigner Bono has so much money he didn’t know some of it bought a piece of a Lithuanian shopping centre via a tax haven.
Restrictions on capital movement have reduced in recent decades, as capitalists who have outgrown their national homes have increasingly dominated the world, writes David Kault
Gary Younge’s article (Opinion, 16 October) supporting open borders is misguided. He claims migration across open borders occurred through history. However, apart from migration as part of conquest, even international tourism was rare – so that Marco Polo was considered remarkable. Younge then contrasts today’s free movement of capital with restriction on free movement of labour. Restrictions on capital movement have reduced in recent decades, as capitalists who have outgrown their national homes have increasingly dominated the world. These same forces also want free movement of labour. This has been resisted, as it clearly leads to the globalisation of poverty.
While open borders are a nice ideal, in the current context those who think of themselves as “left” who prioritise open borders, are supporting international capital’s globalisation of poverty. When they denigrate the resistance to this global capitalist project, displayed by disadvantaged people throughout the developed world, they are driving it into the arms of the far right.
Alligator Creek, Queensland, Australia
Hyperglobalisation has concentrated massive wealth in a few hands, boosting the cult of materialism that the great civil rights campaigner warned us about
Fifty years ago, at New York’s Riverside Church, Martin Luther King made a passionate plea for a more equal, more just, more peaceful and more dignified world. Calling for “a radical revolution of values”, King concluded: “We must rapidly begin … the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
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At the EU he was a lone voice against hyper-globalisation and its rust-belt economics. The era of Brexit and Trump needs his internationalist spirit
• Mark Seddon is a former UN correspondent for Al-Jazeera English, and speechwriter for the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon
During the darkest days of Thatcher’s de-industrialising, high unemployment, beggar-thy-neighbour dystopia of the early 1980s, there was one European leader who offered hope to the beleaguered ranks of industrial workers in the “rust belt” of former mining, steel, engineering, fishing and shipbuilding towns. For the decade from 1985 to 1995, Jacques Delors, as president of the European commission, not only helped fashion the modern-day EU and its single currency, he refined a new and much more purposeful social dimension: a “social chapter” designed to protect the rights of people at work.
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