While national media and global Wall Street pols keep telling WE THE PEOPLE Trans Pacific Trade Pact combined with US Foreign Economic Zones is only about free trade it has always been about breaking down US sovereignty to create conditions in US that were allowed to exist overseas in Foreign Economic Zones----basically ANYTHING GOES IN MAXIMIZING PROFITS. We call this DARK AGES because it is how OLD WORLD MERCHANTS OF VENICE behaved----and negates a thousand years of civil law much of which benefits WE THE PEOPLE as citizens and small and regional business-owners.
BIG started to be used under CLINTON.
BIG PHARMA, BIG BANKS, BIG FOOD, BIG ENERGY, BIG REALTY, BIG INSURANCE, BIG MEDIA, SMALL ACCOUNTABILITY
The right wing Republicans like to pretend they are all about the FOUNDING FATHERS and their intentions with our US Constitution and Federal laws but ANTI-TRUST MONOPOLY was the top priority for our founding fathers and has been in the US for centuries-----
What are being called TRADE AGREEMENTS are actually attacking the foundations of our US democratic republic and sovereignty. Here is to where our US ideals of anti-trust monopoly for a REAL free market economy will be UNDERMINED -----global Wall Street pols have ignored our Federal laws regarding anti-trust monopoly----TPP simply tries to CODIFY these global laws.
WE MUST REVERSE THIS MOVING FORWARD GLOBAL CORPORATE TRIBUNAL RULE!
Corporate Courts — A Big Red Flag On “Trade” Agreements
September 15, 2014 Dave Johnson
Think about everything you understood about our system of government here in the United States. We’re governed under a document that starts with the words, “We the People.” Right? When We the People agree that something should done to make our lives better, it’s supposed to get done. Right?
You didn’t know it, but that whole system thing changed several years ago. Our government, in our name, signed a document that placed corporate profits above our own democracy. The “investor-state dispute settlements” chapter in NAFTA (and similar agreements) places corporate rights on above the rights of people and their governments.
As a result of “NAFTA-style” investor protections that are part of so-called “trade” agreements, giant corporations can and do sue governments for trying to pass laws that protect their citizens from harmful chemicals, ban harmful products, and protect the rights of working people, among other things. Corporations even sue governments for passing laws that might cause the investors in the corporations to make a bit less money — like raising the minimum wage.
But wait, there’s more. The suits aren’t even heard in courts. They are settled by corporate-controlled tribunals set up by these trade agreements. AFL-CIO’s Celeste Drake writes about these tribunals, in “AFL-CIO and Uruguayan Workers in Solidarity to Protect Democracy From ‘Corporate Courts'”:
This mechanism bypasses all democratic processes, such as domestic courts, to directly sue a host country in an unaccountable private tribunal in order to receive compensation for government actions that could potentially harm corporate profits.
Who makes the decisions in these tribunals?
Unaccountable and unelected private arbitrators — usually lawyers who sit on tribunals one week and represent global investors the next. In other words, ISDS is essentially a “corporate court,” a legal system by and for corporations and the global elites.
“Banana Republics” — The Original Reason For Investor Protections
There is a valid reason for this sort of protection in some cases. Picture a poor “banana republic” country ruled by a dictator and his cronies. A company might want to invest in a factory or railroad — things that would help the people of that country as well as deliver a return to the company. But the company worries that the dictator might decide to just seize the factory and give it to his brother-in-law. When things like this happen, the company loses everything. So companies won’t invest in such countries, and the people don’t get the benefit of those investments. Agreements to protect investors, and allowing a tribunal not based in such countries (courts where the judges are cronies of the dictator), make sense in such situations.
However, when dealing with democratically governed, law-abiding countries like ours (used to be), there is no place for agreements that put the rights of corporate investors above the right of We the People to make decisions. These “protections” are in these trade agreements, because corporate/conservative types believe that democracy itself is illegitimate, and believe that corporations need protections from “the waves of madness that occasionally flit through the population.”
Companies that make a fortune selling things that harm or kill us; that harm, exploit, or impoverish their workers; and pollute our environment, certainly want protections from us. They worry that we might wake up and demand protection from a product like tobacco, that kills 480,000 Americans each year. They worry that we might demand that companies stop making a fortune by dumping carbon into the air. They worry that we might raise our minimum wage, pass laws requiring sick days, or lower the hours in a workweek.
Corporations believe in one-dollar-one-vote. Their owners are so arrogant that they believe that they are “makers,” and 47% of us are just “takers” who must be kept out of voting booths at all costs. They think that democracy itself is illegitimate and want protections, just in case We the People demand good wages, safe products, and a clean environment.
Examples That Will Shock You
Here are some examples of corporations suing government that you may not even believe could happen.
Example: A “Switzerland-based” tobacco company is suing the government of Uruguay for damages caused by the government’s anti-smoking efforts. This suit is under the investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision of the Switzerland-Uruguay Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT)
Example: Germany has decided to reduce its use of nuclear power. So the Swedish energy company Vattenfall is suing.
Example: French multinational Veolia sued Egypt for increasing the country’s minimum wage.
Celeste Drake’s post has more examples.
A Rigged Process
That is what our one-sided, big-corporation-dominated trade process has brought us. Giant corporations are working with our own government to secretly negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). This last agreement was so secret that we didn’t even know it negotiations were underway, until Wikileaks revealed this in June.
A rigged process has ushered in “trade” agreements that place the profits of giant corporations over governments’ ability to protect public health. The rigging starts with secret negotiations with only corporate representatives (and negotiators who want to collect a fat check from corporations later) at the table. Then a “fast track” process pushed these agreements past legislators before the implications are fully considered.
You probably didn’t know that these “investor” protections — sold as a way to protect investors from having their investments stolen by “banana republic” dictators — are now being used to protect corporations from the “whims” of democracies. Odds are even your member of Congress might not even understand this. It’s a good time to call your member of Congress and your Senators and let them know you don’t want “fast track” and you don’t want NAFTA-style rigged trade agreements. Let them know you want your democracy back.
The 99% of American citizens are not being told that these terms like INVESTOR STATE------GLOBAL CORPORATE TRIBUNAL are the back door to ending what is US sovereignty and domestic anti-trust monopoly and MOVING FORWARD laws creating global anti-trust monopoly. So now a US city deemed Foreign Economic Zone like Baltimore no longer enforces domestic anti-trust monopoly-----our global Wall Street Baltimore Development controlled by global Johns Hopkins is telling us Baltimore has to open its economy to foreign corporations in order to meet global anti-trust monopoly laws keeping US businesses from having economic monopolies inside US cities.
IT IS CRAZY STUFF-----IF WE REALIZE THAT FOREIGN ECONOMIC ZONES INSIDE ASIAN NATIONS LIKE CHINA, SINGAPORE, TAIWAN, MALAYSIA DID THE SAME IN ALLOWING GLOBAL CORPORATIONS INTO THEIR NATIONS' YOU SEE THE GOAL IS THE SAME FOR OPENING US CITIES AS FOREIGN ECONOMIC ZONES TO THE SAME.
So, now global Wall Street is telling WE THE PEOPLE that our US cities have a monopoly of US businesses and we must open to foreign corporations or be guilty of violating global trade policy being subject to rulings of a global corporate tribunal court.
All of this was put into place CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA ----now Trump will simply MOVE FORWARD these policies even as he tells his CONSERVATIVE BASE he is blocking TPP.
'This mechanism bypasses all democratic processes, such as domestic courts, to directly sue a host country in an unaccountable private tribunal in order to receive compensation for government actions that could potentially harm corporate profits'.
What was used overseas these several decades is being brought to the US creating the American citizens that same inability to invoke sovereign rights and laws. It hits every aspect of business and economy but strikes hard initially at domestic ANTI-TRUST MONOPOLY LAWS.
We just described yesterday how a SAUDI-OWNED oil processing corporation will be able to operate in the US with no fear of domestic laws taking profits----this is that policy-----and it works hand in hand in bringing foreign corporations to US Foreign Economic Zones under the guise of breaking US corporate monopolies inside US..
'If either of these agreements comes into effect, we can expect even more action in terms of investors’ propensity to sue governments not just for ‘direct taking’ via expropriation (the original purpose of ICSID), but also for ‘indirect taking’ via environmental, social and other regulations that might just impinge on a foreign investor’s future ability to make profits'.
Corporate bias at the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes
28 September 2015 | At Issue
by professor Robin Broad; School of International Service, American University
This briefing focuses on the main venue for settlement of legal cases brought by corporations against governments: the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). It finds significant ICSID bias in favour of corporations and commercial interests by analysing ICSID overall and by looking at a specific case brought by a global mining corporation against El Salvador.
In late 2014, the Economist magazine wrote:
“If you wanted to convince the public that international trade agreements are a way to let multinational companies get rich at the expense of ordinary people, this is what you would do: give foreign firms a special right to apply to a secretive tribunal of highly paid corporate lawyers for compensation whenever a government passes a law to, say, discourage smoking, protect the environment or prevent a nuclear catastrophe. Yet that is precisely what thousands of trade and investment treaties over the past half century have done, through a process known as ‘investor-state dispute settlement’, or ISDS.”
The main venue for investor-state dispute settlement, when foreign investors claim they are owed compensation from countries in which they have invested, is the World Bank Group’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). ICSID is one of the least well-known of the five entities that make up the World Bank Group, but it is getting much more attention as it is central to the negotiations for both the Trans-Atlantic (TTIP) and Trans-Pacific (TPP) trade and investment agreements.
There is growing discomfort, even amongst insiders, about ICSID’s corporate bias.
ICSID: Controversial at inception, but quickly centre-stage
ICSID was created by the World Bank in a sea of controversy. At the 1964 Tokyo World Bank and IMF annual meetings, 21 developing-country governments voted “no” to the convention to set up this new part of the World Bank Group in which foreign corporations could sue governments and bypass domestic courts, thus dramatically eroding local democratic control over important political and economic decisions. The 21 included all of the 19 Latin American countries attending* as well as the Philippines and Iraq. The historic vote was dubbed the “Tokyo No.” It could well be the largest collective vote against a World Bank initiative ever. And perhaps the one time that all Latin American representatives voted “no.”
Speaking on behalf of the Latin American countries Félix Ruiz, then representative of Chile, said:
“The new system … would give the foreign investor, by virtue of the fact that he is a foreigner, the right to sue a sovereign state outside its national territory, dispensing with the courts of law. This provision … would confer a privilege on the foreign investor, placing the nationals of the country concerned in a position of inferiority.”
THIS IS THE POWER FOREIGN CORPORATIONS MOVING TO US CITIES DEEMED FOREIGN ECONOMIC ZONES WILL HAVE INSIDE US-------AND KNOW WHAT? SOME OF THESE SO-CALLED FOREIGN CORPORATIONS ARE SIMPLY GLOBAL HEDGE FUNDS OR GLOBAL VENTURE CAPITALISTS CALLING THESE CORPORATIONS FOREIGN JUST TO DO THE SAME.
They believed that the new investor-state dispute settlement system was both unnecessary and unfair.
Those who follow the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its dispute resolution mechanism might note the irony: a fundamental rule of today’s neoliberal push towards ‘ultra-globalisation’, as embedded in the WTO, is that a country’s rules must treat foreign and domestic investors equally. The irony is, of course, that ICSID’s existence seems to suggest that such ultra-globalisation proponents do not find it problematic to have foreign investors privileged over domestic investors.
The ICSID treaty went forward, despite the “no” votes. Initially it was small and largely irrelevant. Its first case was filed in 1972, with just over two dozen cases by 1988. However, by the mid-1990s, ICSID moved center-stage, thanks to the ISDS clauses inserted in bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements, starting in the 1980s and exploding in the 1990s. In 2012 alone, 48 new cases were added to ICSID’s docket. All of the 48 cases were filed against governments of developing countries, more than one-third (17 or over 35 per cent) relating to extractive industries.
As the number of cases brought by corporations before ICSID has ballooned, so too have the criticisms – mainly by sovereign states, but increasingly by trade lawyers and others. The arguments are that ICSID rulings are: 1) increasingly biased in favour of corporate investors over governments and therefore highly anti-democratic as presaged by the Tokyo No’s concerns; and 2) too narrow in their focus on ‘commercial’ rights (that is, of the private foreign investor) over broader social and environmental issues.
Heads we win, tails you lose: ICSID’s corporate bias against El Salvador
A long-time subject of my research is the 2009 case of Pac Rim Cayman LLC, a global gold-mining firm, which sued the government of El Salvador for not granting it a mining concession. In El Salvador, there has been growing concern about the long-term environmental and social impacts of gold mining, versus its very limited short-term economic benefits. Starting in 2005, local communities in northern El Salvador, along with the Catholic church, development groups, human rights organisations and international allies (including civil society groups, such as MiningWatch Canada, the Institute for Policy Studies and Oxfam America) spoke out against industrial mining in the country, and then later against the Pac Rim suit at ICSID. Their broader argument, which was supported by the national government, was that over half of El Salvador’s drinking water comes from the Rio Lempa watershed, a vast area that encompasses much of El Salvador’s gold deposits and that therefore mining would threaten this already compromised watershed.
Pac Rim, now owned by the Canadian/Australian firm OceanaGold, never actually received a mining concession given that it never fulfilled all the legal requirements to do so. However, the company cleverly ignored this key point in bringing a case to ICSID in which it argued that it was being unfairly denied a concession for other reasons. The fact that the Pac Rim case against El Salvador was allowed to proceed at ICSID is in itself startling, since Pac Rim never met all of the conditions necessary to be granted that mining concession. Beyond this narrower, more technical purview, this case demonstrates how ICSID ignores broader questions, such as: Should not the government of El Salvador have the right, or indeed the responsibility, to protect its key watershed from the environmental ravages of gold mining that will use cyanide and release arsenic embedded with gold in the rock? Moreover, why should an investor have the right to sue the government, while other key non-state actors, such as the affected communities, are not allowed to participate equally and are often, as in the Pac Rim case, not even allowed to listen to the substantive hearing on the case’s merits? In the Pac Rim case, communities were allowed to submit two amicus briefs (“friends of the court” briefs) – having been fortunate enough to find a lawyer willing to write these on their behalf. But there is not even any assurance that the briefs were read by the three ICSID-certified tribunalists who preside over this case.
This case is currently awaiting the ICSID tribunal’s decision on the ‘merits’ or substance of the case. But if El Salvador ‘loses’, it could be required to pay not only the approximate $300 million Pac Rim is asking for in compensation and profits foregone, but also Pac Rim’s approximately $12.6 million costs in legal and ICSID fees. Moreover, such a decision could open the door to mining at this concession or elsewhere. And if El Salvador ‘wins’, it would likely still have to pay its own estimated $12.6 million in legal and ICSID fees, and it will have spent years of its own human resources (which are, of course, public resources) fighting this case. Whatever the decision, the ‘loser’ will likely proceed into ICSID’s ‘annulment’ stage – which is not the same as an actual appeals process. Unlike courts and most judicial systems, ICSID tribunals are not based on legal precedent, so there is no appeal on judicial grounds.
In other words, there is no real victory possible for El Salvador or its people at ICSID.
Worsening systemic bias at ICSID?
This case – while egregious – is not unique. ICSID’s bias in favour of corporations demonstrates the validity of the concerns raised by the 21 “Tokyo No” countries fifty-one years ago. If anything, as ICSID’s workload has skyrocketed and as corporations’ global reach has expanded, ICSID appears to have become increasingly biased towards private corporate investors.
There is growing discomfort, even amongst insiders, about ICSID’s corporate bias. In 2014 prominent trade lawyer George Kahale III publicly declared that ICSID tribunals, before which he has argued cases, were increasingly biased in favour of foreign investors. Kahale and other critics have pointed out that since ICSID does not build its cases on legal precedents nor allow for appeals based on judicial reviews, there are no mechanisms to correct flawed rulings. Stating that “the system is broken”, Kahale also denounced the trade agreements for empowering hundreds of corporations to pursue these ICSID cases as “weapons of legal destruction” that are “susceptible to abuse”.
It is therefore understandable why Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela have left ICSID. South Africa is establishing a new investment law that allows foreign corporations to bring such claims only to domestic courts. India is conducting a review of its treaties in the face of several corporate lawsuits, and Indonesia has announced its intent not to renew its bilateral investment treaties. Australia declined to include these corporate rights in the 2005 Australia-US Free Trade Agreement. Brazil has never accepted investor-state dispute settlement in any venue.
A related set of biases reflects a concern that ICSID’s scope is too narrow. As seen in the El Salvador case, this includes questions of whose voices are heard and whose are effectively silenced – and notably the lack of meaningful voice for affected communities and civil society. This is hardly consistent with the principle of ensuring free, prior and informed consent of affected communities.
The narrowness is also evident in how environmental, human rights and other social issues are dealt with at ICSID. At the time of ICSID’s founding, there were few universal human rights instruments, only a couple of environmental treaties, and no key international instruments on the rights of indigenous peoples. But much has changed since ICSID’s birth, including widespread acceptance of the centrality of environmental issues. Our instruments of global governance should be structured to reward a government such as El Salvador for taking steps to protect ecosystems, rather than punish it by being sued at ICSID. It is the duty of governments to prioritise their responsibility to protect people and their ecosystems. In its current structure, ISDS clauses and rulings by ICSID do the exact opposite – discouraging national environmental and social regulations, for fear of being sued.
After 51 years: time to say “no” to ICSID
There is increasing urgency to say “no” to ICSID. If the two main trade and investment agreements under negotiation today, TPP and TTIP, are approved, ICSID’s case-load will grow further, thanks to the investor-state dispute settlement clauses currently in both drafts. The TPP would include 12 nations that account for about 40 per cent of world GDP, and TTIP would include 29 of the world’s largest economies (the US and the 28 member states of the European Union), so each would cover vast portions of the world economy where foreign investment plays a major role. If either of these agreements comes into effect, we can expect even more action in terms of investors’ propensity to sue governments not just for ‘direct taking’ via expropriation (the original purpose of ICSID), but also for ‘indirect taking’ via environmental, social and other regulations that might just impinge on a foreign investor’s future ability to make profits.
Fortunately, there is escalating opposition to these agreements. France and Germany have voiced concerns about investor-state provisions. Indeed, in June 2015, France’s minister of state for foreign trade, Matthias Fekl, recommended a Europe-based alternative investor-state system that would address many of the biases in ICSID for the TTIP negotiations, and he stated that many European countries supported this.
Proponents of these agreements often warn that the global economy will fall apart without such investor rights and its key venue ICSID, and that foreign investment will dry up. But this is not so. Brazil, which has never accepted investor-state dispute settlement in any venue, is nevertheless a leading recipient of foreign investment. More generally, foreign investors that believe they are making a risky investment could simply rely on foreign risk insurance; they also have recourse to the relevant domestic courts in a given country. That is another example of the bias created by ISDS’ reliance on global forums such ICSID: since domestic firms have to go through domestic courts, so should foreign firms.
Let us celebrate the 51st anniversary of ICSID by urging current member governments to withdraw from this World Bank Group’s forum that undermines democracy, fairness, the environment, and the broader common good. And let us make sure that ICSID is not further strengthened by unwise trade and investment agreements.
The World Bank and IMF have these several decades used civil wars and civil instabilities with economic stagnation to force developing nations' into bankruptcy with the IMF being brought in to SAVE THAT NATION'S ECONOMY. They immediately installed Foreign Economic Zones with these global trade treaties changing that nation's sovereign laws and citizens' rights to this global trade structure. Developing nations do not have domestic economies that are not simply small business---but these trade policies KILLED THOSE SMALL BUSINESSES leaving those citizens unemployed, impoverished, and having no rights.
Now the World Bank and IMF are coming after developed nations like US, Canada, UK, and Europe to do the same. This is why there is massive unemployment, economic stagnation, movement of wealth through fraud and corruption to the top 1%---preparing to take these sovereign nations to the same global trade policies under a global corporate tribunal and court system. In doing this that brings a GLOBAL ANTI-TRUST MONOPOLY POLICY where US cities deemed Foreign Economic Zones must open to foreign corporations because of MONOPOLY BY US BUSINESSES INSIDE THESE ZONES.
When we shout locally in our US cities and counties that the economy is stagnant---that we cannot start meaningful businesses----that global corporations are controlling everything----this is what is causing all this----if you are shouting for JOBS, JOBS, JOBS, SMALL BUSINESSES THAT ARE NOT NON-ECONOMIES-----this is the policy we fight.
TTIP is the same policy as American TPP only in Europe. So far European nations have stopped TTIP but global banking neo-liberals like MACRON IN FRANCE are winning elections and will MOVE FORWARD European nations to these global corporate tribunal policies ending their national sovereignty and their citizens' rights.
European Commission - Press release
Commission proposes new Investment Court System for TTIP and other EU trade and investment negotiations
Brussels, 16 September 2015
The European Commission has approved its proposal for a new and transparent system for resolving disputes between investors and states – the Investment Court System.
The Investment Court System would replace the existing investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism in all ongoing and future EU investment negotiations, including the EU-US talks on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
The proposal for an Investment Court System builds on the substantial input received from the European Parliament, Member States, national parliaments and stakeholders through the public consultation held on ISDS. It is intended to ensure that all actors can have full trust in the system. Built around the same key elements as domestic and international courts, it enshrines governments' right to regulate and ensures transparency and accountability.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "With our proposals for a new Investment Court System, we are breaking new ground. The new Investment Court System will be composed of fully qualified judges, proceedings will be transparent, and cases will be decided on the basis of clear rules. In addition, the Court will be subject to review by a new Appeal Tribunal. With this new system, we protect the governments' right to regulate, and ensure that investment disputes will be adjudicated in full accordance with the rule of law."
"Today, we're delivering on our promise – to propose a new, modernised system of investment courts, subject to democratic principles and public scrutiny," said Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. "What has clearly come out of the debate is that the old, traditional form of dispute resolution suffers from a fundamental lack of trust. However, EU investors are the most frequent users of the existing model, which individual EU countries have developed over time. This means that Europe must take the responsibility to reform and modernise it. We must take the global lead on the path to reform." She added: "We want to establish a new system built around the elements that make citizens trust domestic or international courts. I’m making this proposal public at the same time that I send it to the European Parliament and the Member States. It’s very important to have an open and transparent exchange of views on this widely debated issue."
Main elements of reform
The proposal for the new court system includes major improvements such as:
- a public Investment Court System composed of a first instance Tribunal and an Appeal Tribunal would be set up;
- judgements would be made by publicly appointed judges with high qualifications, comparable to those required for the members of permanent international courts such as the International Court of Justice and the WTO Appellate Body;
- the new Appeal Tribunal would be operating on similar principles to the WTO Appellate Body;
- the ability of investors to take a case before the Tribunal would be precisely defined and limited to cases such as targeted discrimination on the base of gender, race or religion, or nationality, expropriation without compensation, or denial of justice;
- governments’ right to regulate would be enshrined and guaranteed in the provisions of the trade and investment agreements.
- proceedings will be transparent, hearings open and comments available on-line, and a right to intervene for parties with an interest in the dispute will be provided;
- Forum–shopping is not possible;
- Frivolous claims will be dismissed quickly;
- A clear distinction between international law and domestic law will be maintained;
- Multiple and parallel proceedings will be avoided.
This is not the end of the process. The Commission will now have discussions with the Council and the European Parliament. Once the text of the proposal has been discussed, it will be presented as an EU text proposal in the EU-US trade talks and will be used in other ongoing and future negotiations.
Towards an International Investment Court
Finally, in parallel to the TTIP negotiations, the Commission will start work, together with other countries, on setting up a permanent International Investment Court. The objective is that over time the International Investment Court would replace all investment dispute resolution mechanisms provided in EU agreements, EU Member States’ agreements with third countries and in trade and investment treaties concluded between non-EU countries. This would further increase the efficiency, consistency and legitimacy of the international investment dispute resolution system.
When Clinton/Bush/Obama's US Justice Department seemed to simply turn a blind eye to soaring corporate frauds and government corruptions----when we watch as a GLOBAL LIBOR banking fraud for instance taking trillions of dollars from global citizens and moving it to a few global banks---WITH NO PROSECUTIONS NO RECOVERY OF FRAUD TO THE CITIES AND CITIZENS DEFRAUDED----and yes, Baltimore was staged for every global Wall Street fraud on the book----this is why WE THE PEOPLE cannot get any justice.
The right of global corporations to operate inside the US and by extension inside US cities without any Federal, state, or local oversight or accountability is tied to these global trade agreements and protections of foreign corporations acting criminally fall under GLOBAL ANTI-TRUST MONOPOLY LAWS and LENIENCY LAWS
WE THE PEOPLE have no avenue to recover our financial losses and US government simply assigns a FINE for costs in investigating foreign crimes.
OF COURSE US CORPORATIONS HAVE BEEN DOING THE SAME THESE FEW DECADES OVERSEAS---ESPECIALLY THOSE TIED TO FOREIGN DEVELOPMENT---ERGO, EXTREME WEALTH. US CORPORATIONS OPERATED WITH IMPUNITY OVERSEAS NOW FOREIGN CORPORATIONS CAN DO SO INSIDE US TO MAXIMIZE THEIR PROFITS.
'Yet instituting fixes that antitrust enforcers across the globe can abide by is another matter. While local antitrust bodies have done well coordinating their efforts in the launch and due diligence phase of prosecutions, they’ve been widely reluctant to give up home country control over sentencing, leading to what has been an ad hoc approach to apportioning punishments and fines'.
The Great Debate
Antitrust enforcement goes global
By John Terzaken
November 22, 2013As one of the world’s top cops on the antitrust beat, the U.S. has long led the fight to curtail price-fixing, collusion, and other anticompetitive behavior in global commerce. And the Justice Department’s antitrust division has wielded an especially big club of late.
In each of the past two years, criminal penalties in antitrust cases have exceeded more than $1 billion, thanks to groundbreaking settlements with DOJ following investigations into collusion in interbank lending rates among banks as well as price-fixing in the global auto parts industry. The $1.4 billion in fines collected in fiscal year 2012 was the largest recovery ever for the antitrust enforcement division in a 12-month span. Fiscal 2013 wasn’t far behind, hitting $1.02 billion.
Now that sequester-mandated budget cuts have taken hold, it may be tough for Justice to score another billion-dollar bounty in the year ahead. With fewer staff and tighter resources, trying existing cases and getting new investigations in the pipeline could be a challenge for U.S. antitrust enforcers.
That said, companies engaged in international commerce should by no means slacken up on competition compliance, given all the new watchdogs on the beat worldwide. In recent years the number of anti-cartel and fair competition authorities globally has soared as a host of new countries — including China, Mexico, India, and South Korea, to name a few — have joined the U.S., EU and other established players in going after violators of antitrust laws.
In all, more than 115 countries now have antitrust regimes in place. Roughly a third of those are aggressively targeting cartel activity, with nearly a dozen state actors pursuing price-fixing and other anti-competitive activity beyond their own borders.
Obviously that takes teamwork. In recent years antitrust authorities have stepped up inter-agency coordination on everything from search warrants to pre-dawn raids, while promoting far greater information-sharing of evidence of wrongdoing.
The list of countries engaged in extra-territorial anti-cartel prosecutions continues to grow. Take China’s National Development and Reform Commission. Though the NDRC has traditionally stuck to domestic targets, it has recently expanded its sights to include companies headquartered outside of mainland China. This past January, the NDRC announced criminal penalties of nearly $56 million against Korean and Taiwanese makers of liquid crystal display panels for televisions and computer screens, in what was not only the agency’s first ever prosecution of foreign-based price-fixing affecting China, but the largest sanctions that the NRDC has ever imposed.
The NRDC isn’t the only overseas antitrust authority breaking records. The European Commission has been on a tear, hitting new highs in total penalties collected (including €2.9 billion in sanctions in 2010 alone) as well as the largest single antitrust sanction ever (€1.47 billion) in a 2012 settlement with sellers of cathode ray tubes for televisions and computer screens.
Meanwhile, other foreign competition enforcement agencies in Brazil, Japan and South Africa are on track to have their own banner years. As of October, Brazil and Japan had each levied more than $200 million in fines against antitrust violators in 2013. And South Africa, a relative newcomer to competition enforcement, has leveled nearly $150 million in fines in 2013.
Not a bad payoff, especially at a time when anemic global economic growth has kept tax revenues down, and left governments with steep budget shortfalls. As more countries find that there’s significant revenue to be had, it’s a good bet that enforcement actions will continue to climb, and already sky-high penalties could easily go up even more.
An obvious question is what other purpose those actions serve. Are the recent record-breaking sanctions a real deterrent to market manipulation? And for companies facing multiple fines from myriad antitrust authorities — and thus a form of multiple jurisdictional jeopardy — how much is too much?
While the United States and other countries have begun grappling with those questions, they’re still a long way from coming up with real answers, much less concrete (and fair) reforms.
Companies caught in the crosshairs of serial enforcement agencies complain that whatever the alleged transgressions, the sanctions they and other defendants now face are badly out of whack. The problem isn’t just prosecutorial overkill, but outright piling on. One illustration is the recent Air Cargo cartel case. As part of what was alleged to be an overarching conspiracy to artificially inflate surcharges on global air freight services, antitrust prosecutors in at least ten different jurisdictions brought enforcement actions: the United States, European Union, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, South Korea, and Switzerland. When the case finally settled, each government got its share of the spoils from the same set of defendants in the form of tens of millions of dollars in fines.
It’s not that the agencies don’t recognize the problem. There is consensus that in many instances the multiple sanctions meted out have been excessive, and that the rise in overlapping prosecutions needs to be addressed.
Yet instituting fixes that antitrust enforcers across the globe can abide by is another matter. While local antitrust bodies have done well coordinating their efforts in the launch and due diligence phase of prosecutions, they’ve been widely reluctant to give up home country control over sentencing, leading to what has been an ad hoc approach to apportioning punishments and fines.
The Justice Department’s antitrust division has been trying to do its part to help curtail prosecutorial overkill. It recently established a new internal policy meant to encourage prosecutors to use wider discretion when defendants are facing parallel enforcement actions abroad.
Moreover, Justice is working on getting its counterparts around the world to adopt similar principles. If antitrust authorities are serious about trying to promote fairer, more proportional penalties in global antitrust matters, that could be a good start. Still, for now it’s unclear how many other countries will sign on to those principles — or even how effective they would ultimately be.
The age of “multiple” jeopardy for antitrust defendants isn’t about to end anytime soon, which is why companies that are potential targets need to fortify their defenses. One obvious step is to beef up compliance programs. If potential problems or risky practices are spotted, the smart move is to bring them to the attention of the relevant antitrust authorities as quickly as possible, since prosecutors typically go much easier on companies that self-report questionable behavior. Those that don’t self-report run a greater risk that their competitors, or even an internal whistle-blower, will report the potential violations anyway, and thus put them in a far more vulnerable position with prosecutors.
For companies that would rather avoid a global prosecutorial pile-on, not to mention many millions of dollars in fines, it’s definitely something to consider before the antitrust enforcers come knocking.
This is of course has soared under these several years of Obama with global Wall Street telling us we NEED FOREIGN INVESTMENT because massive Wall Street and corporate frauds have bankrupted our US cities. What they are not saying is this: Global trade agreements allowing corporations into Foreign Economic Zones must allow those foreign corporations into our US cities under what are global ANTI-TRUST MONOPOLY LAWS. This is why these few decades our US cities have been allowed to crumble and decay----why no local economy was rebuilt only patronage pretend startup funding ----
The UK and London are a decade or two ahead of the US in creating a totally global monopoly of their economy-----it is no longer England---it is that ONE WORLD ONE GOVERNANCE filled with the global 1%. No English anti-trust monopoly laws from over a thousand years of civil enlightenment development happening in England---it is pure OLD WORLD MERCHANTS OF VENICE with a global corporate tribunal rule -----NO BRITISH ANTI-TRUST MONOPOLY ----NO BRITISH CITIZENS HAVING RIGHTS ----NO LOCAL ECONOMIES.
What we are hearing global Wall Street telling US city pols is this-----JUST ALLOW RESTAURANTS AND HOTELS as we MOVE FORWARD global corporate campuses and global factory building and indeed that is all we see in BALTIMORE----
Property owned by global corporations whether we think they are AMERICAN like UnderArmour are not American---they are registered as multi-national but they will be allowed to operate with no US Rule of Law ---no US ANTI-TRUST OR MONOPOLY LAWS because they are multi-national.
OUR FORMERLY US CORPORATIONS ARE NOT LEGALLY AMERICAN ANY MORE AND THEY COULD CARE LESS ABOUT AMERICAN SOVEREIGNTY ---JUST THE OPPOSITE---MOVING FORWARD CREATING GLOBAL FOREIGN ECONOMIC ZONES ENDS US, STATE, AND LOCAL SOVEREIGNTY.
While we are shouting at Trump all these US city development policy is moving forward making it harder to REVERSE ATTACKS ON SOVEREIGNTY and with that protecting US anti-trust monopoly and ability to rebuild a REAL domestic free market economy.
Who owns our cities – and why this urban takeover should concern us all
The huge post-credit crunch buying up of urban buildings by corporations has significant implications for equity, democracy and rights
Tuesday 24 November 2015 03.30 EST Last modified on Thursday 3 November 2016 09.04 EDT
Does the massive foreign and national corporate buying of urban buildings and land that took off after the 2008 crisis signal an emergent new phase in major cities? From mid-2013 to mid-2014, corporate buying of existing properties exceeded $600bn (£395bn) in the top 100 recipient cities, and $1trillion a year later – and this figure includes only major acquisitions (eg. a minimum of $5m in the case of New York City).
I want to examine the details of this large corporate investment surge, and why it matters. Cities are the spaces where those without power get to make a history and a culture, thereby making their powerlessness complex. If the current large-scale buying continues, we will lose this type of making that has given our cities their cosmopolitanism.
Indeed, at the current scale of acquisitions, we are seeing a systemic transformation in the pattern of land ownership in cities: one that alters the historic meaning of the city. Such a transformation has deep and significant implications for equity, democracy and rights.
A city is a complex but incomplete system: in this mix lies the capacity of cities across histories and geographies to outlive far more powerful, but fully formalised, systems – from large corporations to national governments. London, Beijing, Cairo, New York, Johannesburg and Bangkok – to name but a few – have all outlived multiple types of rulers and of businesses.
In this mix of complexity and incompleteness lies the possibility for those without power to assert “we are here” and “this is also our city”. Or, as the legendary statement by the fighting poor in Latin American cities puts it, “Estamos presentes”: we are present, we are not asking for money, we are just letting you know that this is also our city.
It is in cities to a large extent where the powerless have left their imprint – cultural, economic, social: mostly in their own neighbourhoods, but eventually these can spread to a vaster urban zone as “ethnic” food, music, therapies and more.
If the current buying continues, we will lose the type of making that has given our cities their cosmopolitanism
All of this cannot happen in a business park, regardless of its density – they are privately controlled spaces where low-wage workers can work, but not “make”. Nor can this happen in the world’s increasingly militarised plantations and mines. It is only in cities where that possibility of gaining complexity in one’s powerlessness can happen – because nothing can fully control such a diversity of people and engagements.
Those with power to some extent do not want to be bothered by the poor, so the model is often to abandon them to their own devices. In some cities (for example, in the US and Brazil) there is extreme violence by police. Yet this can often become a public issue, which is perhaps a first step in the longer trajectories of gaining at least some rights. It is in cities where so many of the struggles for vindications have taken place, and have, in the long run, partly succeeded.
But it is this possibility – the capacity to make a history, a culture and so much more – that is today threatened by the surge in large-scale corporate re-development of cities.
It is easy to explain the post-2008 urban investment surge as “more of the same”. After all, the late 1980s also saw rapid growth of national and foreign buying of office buildings and hotels, especially in New York and London. In The Global City, I wrote about the large share of buildings in the City of London that were foreign-owned at the height of that phase.Financial firms from countries as diverse as Japan and the Netherlands found they needed a strong foothold in London’s City to access continental European capital and markets.
But an examination of the current trends shows some significant differences and points to a whole new phase in the character and logics of foreign and national corporate acquisitions. (I do not see much of a difference in terms of the urban impact between national and foreign investment.
The key fact here is that both are corporate and large scale.) Four features stand out:
• The sharp scale-up in the buying of buildings, even in cities that have long been the object of such investments, notably NY and London. For instance, the Chinese have most recently emerged as major buyers in cities such as London and New York. Today there are about 100 cities worldwide that have become significant destinations for such acquisitions – foreign corporate buying of properties from 2013 to 2014 grew by 248% in Amsterdam/Randstadt, 180% in Madrid and 475% in Nanjing. In contrast, the growth rate was relatively lower for the major cities in each region: 68.5% for New York, 37.6% for London, and 160.8% for Beijing.
• The extent of new construction. The rapid-growth period of the 1980s and 90s was often about acquiring buildings – notably high-end Harrods in London, and Sachs Fifth Avenue and the Rockefeller Center in New York. In the post-2008 period, much buying of buildings is to destroy them and replace them with far taller, far more corporate and luxurious types of buildings – basically, luxury offices and luxury apartments.
• The spread of mega-projects with vast footprints that inevitably kill much urban tissue: little streets and squares, density of street-level shops and modest offices, and so on. These megaprojects raise the density of the city, but they actually de-urbanise it – and thereby bring to the fore the fact, easily overlooked in much commentary about cities, that density is not enough to have a city.
• The foreclosing on modest properties owned by modest-income households. This has reached catastrophic levels in the US, with Federal Reserve data showing that more than 14 million households have lost their homes from 2006 to 2014. One outcome is a significant amount of empty or under-occupied urban land, at least some of which is likely to be “re-developed”.
The proposed Atlantic Yards luxury residential towers in Brooklyn. Photograph: APA further striking feature of this period is the acquisition of whole blocks of underutilised or dead industrial land for site development. Here, the prices paid by buyers can get very high. One example is the acquisition of Atlantic Yards, a vast stretch of land in New York City by one of the largest Chinese building companies for $5bn. Currently, this land is occupied by a mixture of modest factories and industrial services, modest neighbourhoods, and artists’ studios and venues that have been pushed out of lower Manhattan by large-scale developments of high-rise apartment buildings.
Privatisation in the 90s has resulted in a reduction of public buildings and an escalation in large, corporate ownership
This very urban mix of occupants will be thrown out and replaced by 14 formidable luxury residential towers – a sharp growth of density that actually has the effect of de-urbanising that space. It will be a sort of de facto “gated” space with lots of people; not the dense mix of uses and types of people we think of as “urban”. This type of development is taking off in many cities – mostly with virtual walls, but sometimes also with real ones. I would argue that with this type of development, the virtual and the actual walls have similar impacts on de-urbanising pieces of a city.
The scale and the character of these investments are captured in the vast amounts spent on buying urban properties and land. Those global, corporate investments of $600bn from mid-2013 to mid-2014, and over 1tn from mid-2014 to mid 2015, were just to acquire existing buildings. The figure excludes site development, another major trend.
This proliferating urban gigantism has been strengthened and enabled by the privatisations and deregulations that took off in the 1990s across much of the world, and have continued since then with only a few interruptions. The overall effect has been a reduction in public buildings, and an escalation in large, corporate private ownership.
The result is a thinning in the texture and scale of spaces previously accessible to the public. Where before there was a government office building handling the regulations and oversight of this or that public economic sector, or addressing the complaints from the local neighbourhood, now there might be a corporate headquarters, a luxury apartment building or a guarded mall.
Global geographies of extraction have long been key to the western world’s economic development. And now these have moved on to urban land, going well beyond the traditional association with plantations and mines, even as these have been extended and made more brutally efficient.
A large city is a frontier zone where actors from different worlds can have an encounter with no rules of engagement
The corporatising of access and control over urban land has extended not only to high-end urban sites, but also to the land beneath the homes of modest households and government offices. We are witnessing an unusually large scale of corporate buying of whole pieces of cities in the last few years. The mechanisms for these extractions are often far more complex than the outcomes, which can be quite elementary in their brutality.
One key transformation is a shift from mostly small private to large corporate modes of ownership, and from public to private. This is a process that takes place in bits and pieces, some big and some small, and to some extent these practices have long been part of the urban land market and urban development. But today’s scale-up takes it all to a whole new dimension, one that alters the historic meaning of the city.
This is particularly so because what was small and/or public is becoming large and private. The trend is to move from small properties embedded in city areas that are crisscrossed by streets and small public squares, to projects that erase much of this public tissue of streets and squares via mega-projects with large, sometimes huge, footprints. This privatises and de-urbanises city space no matter the added density.
There are moments in the routines of a city when we all become urban subjects ... Rush hour at King’s Cross station. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty ImagesLarge cities have long been complex and incomplete. This has enabled the incorporation of diverse people, logics, politics. A large, mixed city is a frontier zone where actors from different worlds can have an encounter for which there are no established rules of engagement, and where the powerless and the powerful can actually meet.
This also makes cities spaces of innovations, small and large. And this includes innovations by those without power: even if they do not necessarily become powerful in the process, they produce components of a city, thus leaving a legacy that adds to its cosmopolitanism – something that few other places enable.
Such a mix of complexity and incompleteness ensures a capacity to shape an urban subject and an urban subjectivity. It can partly override the religious subject, the ethnic subject, the racialised subject and, in certain settings, also the differences of class. There are moments in the routines of a city when we all become urban subjects – rush hour is one such mix of time and space.
But today, rather than a space for including people from many diverse backgrounds and cultures, our global cities are expelling people and diversity. Their new owners, often part-time inhabitants, are very international – but that does not mean they represent many diverse cultures and traditions. Instead, they represent the new global culture of the successful – and they are astoundingly homogeneous, no matter how diverse their countries of birth and languages. This is not the urban subject that our large, mixed cities have historically produced. This is, above all, a global “corporate” subject.
The privatisation of cities' public spaces is escalating. It is time to take a standBradley L Garrett
In the first of a series on the changing nature of urban space, academic geographer and gonzo urbanist Bradley L Garrett discusses ‘Pops’ – privately owned public spaces – and asks who our cities are really for
Read moreMuch of urban change is inevitably predicated on expelling what used to be. Since their beginnings, whether 3,000 years old or 100, cities have kept reinventing themselves, which means there are always winners and losers. Urban histories are replete with accounts of those who were once poor and quasi-outsiders, or modest middle classes, that gained ground – because cities have long accommodated extraordinary variety.
But today’s large-scale corporate buying of urban space in its diverse instantiations introduces a de-urbanising dynamic. It is not adding to mixity and diversity. Instead it implants a whole new formation in our cities – in the shape of a tedious multiplication of high-rise luxury buildings.
One way of putting it is that this new set of implants contains within it a logic all of its own – one which cannot be tamed into becoming part of the logics of the traditional city. It keeps its full autonomy and, one might say, gives us all its back. And that does not look pretty.