Quotations

“The notion of the competitiveness of countries, on the model of the competitiveness of companies, is nonsense.” 
Martin Wolf, in his book “Why Globalisation Works.”

 

Competitiveness: “a not very good yet widely accepted excuse for crushing labour.”
– Yves Smith, editor, Naked Capitalism, via email to Fools’ Gold, march 2015.

 

“The idea that there’s some direct connection, that all these innovators are on strike because tax rates are at 35 percent on corporations, that’s just such nonsense.
Bill Gates, May 2015

 

Competition: “Conflating the real gains that arise when things are produced more efficiently with the subzero-sum game that results when exchequers pick each other’s pockets.”
Guardian editorial, March 2009

 

“The only genuine safeguard for our national interests lies in international cooperation.”
– Henry Morgenthau, US Treasury Secretary, at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1946

 

“The rhetoric of competitiveness — the view that, in the words of President Clinton, each nation is “like a big corporation competing in the global marketplace” — has become pervasive among opinion leaders throughout the world. People who believe themselves to be sophisticated about the subject take it for granted that the economic problem facing any modern nation is essentially one of competing on world markets — that the United States and Japan are competitors in the same sense that Coca-Cola competes with Pepsi — and are unaware that anyone might seriously question that proposition.”
Paul Krugman, 1994

 

“Lack of competitiveness is nowhere to be found in these highly taxed countries”
Martin Wolf, in his book Why Globalisation Works, p260 (paperback edition)

 

“Financial regulation is only one example of where the mantra of needing to be “internationally competitive” has been invoked too often as a reason to cut back on regulation. There has not been enough serious consideration of the alternative – global co-operation to raise standards.
– Lawrence Summers, former US Treasury Secretary, May 2008.

 

“The OECD efforts to curb ‘‘harmful tax competition’’ slowly dissolved into a series of toothless pronouncements, a mixture of cheerleading and scorekeeping that continues to this day.
– Martin A. Sullivan, Lessons from the Last War on Tax Havens, 2007.

 

The activities engaged in routinely and as a matter of course by these tax havens are hostile acts towards all countries whose tax bases are undermined by them.
– Willem Buiter.

 

“Competition across the globe in offering such incentives is wasteful and foolish.”
– Martin Wolf, “Why Globalisation Works.”p240 (paperback edition)
“Popular incentives, such as tax holidays, subsidised financing or free land, serve only to detract value from those investments that would likely be made in any case’. 
Mckinsey’s Quarterly, 2004 vol. 1

 

“When we have a narrow theory of who creates value and wealth, we allow a greater share of that value to be captured by a small group of actors who call themselves wealth creators.”
Mariana Mazzucato

 

“The main beneficiary of that (tax) competition is international business, and often countries suffer large fiscal losses without commensurate gains to either their domestic economy or to the efficiency of the location of international production.”
– Stiglitz and Charlton, 2005

 

“Tax is not a key determinant for foreign direct investment.”
– IMF.

 

“The only clear winners are large corporations.  In return for building new facilities in many states, companies are actually getting negative income taxes.  Subsidy packages routinely exceed $100,000 per job.  Guess who’s getting stuck with the tab.” 
– Greg LeRoy, 2005

 

“Tax competition between nation states . . . is unhealthy for those states and for citizens who have to pay their taxes.”
European Trades Union Congress
.

“This competition is harmful when it sparks a fiscal war between the different EU member states”
– Alain Lamassoure, chair of European Tax Rulings Committee, March 2015

Follies

A random selection of some of the less thoughtful quotes on ‘competitiveness.’

“The real common ground, the real centre-ground of British politics right now, is who has got the answers to making sure Britain competes and succeeds in the global race? That’s the question which wasn’t answered by Labour, which is being answered by us.
David Cameron, UK (Conservative) Prime Minister, 2014

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