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Economic intelligence culture in France

Gagliano Giuseppe

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The tensions underlying international exchange are indicative of the importance of cultural factors in economic warfare and oblige companies to be aware of the scientific progress if they intend to continue developing.

It took France a long time to define a culture of its own in the field of intelligence, and until the previous century, the French word renseignement had a negative connotation. The political elite considered this activity to be degrading and comparable to dirty police work.

The French government felt the need to launch certain reforms in both its external and internal services only after the First Gulf War, thanks also to constructive political consensus. This reform process focused on security that did not give due consideration to the decisive role that finance and markets have come to assume today in determining a people’s and a nation’s future, in an offensive context in which Western countries are not the only protagonists.

The main concerns of the French political elite regarded the use of renseignement in increasing the nation’s power and the ways that the offensive practices, typical of the information warfare, could be used while maintaining respect for the rules of democracy.

The management of conflicts linked to information has now become more complex due to the lack of strategies capable of managing and controlling virtual markets, the immaterial world represented by Internet, and the presence of new weapons capable of influencing public opinion.

With his interdisciplinary point of view, Christian Harbulot offers a reflection to understand the nature of the relations of power existing between national economies by juxtaposing strictly economic factors with historical, geopolitical, or cultural factors that affect economic warfare.

The reason why the elite were so unable to formulate a clear doctrine in this regard is perhaps due to previous historical factors. For three times in little less than a century – in 1815 with the succession of King Louis the 18th to Napoleon, in 1870, with the support of Bismarck against the Paris Commune, and in 1940, with the collaboration between Pétain and Nazi Germany – a national force interested in taking power created an alliance with a country that had defeated France on the military level. This contributed to the beginning of a certain wariness in public opinion of patriotism, which became devoid of substance when the enemy was presented as an indispensable ally. The Colonial Wars and the Cold War, with their ideological view of power as an act of domination and the substitution of national idealism by solidarity for struggling peoples, reduced the dimensions of patriotism to a minimum. The Cold War imposed ideology as the dominant key to the reading of events and the unity of the Western world assumed top priority against the threat from the Soviets, thus re-dimensioning the balance of power between the economies of the Western nations.

Only the arrival of General De Gaulle at the head of the fifth Republic produced an attempt at redefining the challenge posed by relations based on power in an economic perspective.

General De Gaulle tried to ensure a homogenous approach to the strategy of power and a better positioning of France on the international scene in 1958, but encountered great difficulty in having this approach accepted by civil society. He proposed an alternative to the Cold War based on an equilibrium between East and West and a conciliation between the world’s North and South, but this attempt at compromise failed, due to the lack of international support (the United States opposed this pursuit of strategic autonomy) and also the scarce interest shown by the French elite.

De Gaulle had a wide and articulated vision of France’s power also on the economic level, with its positive foreign trade balance; on the military level, with the advantages derived from the growth of its power; on the diplomatic level, with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The main concern in managing the territory was the modernization of the infrastructure to attract foreign investment.

This one-way vision did not permit the assessment of the intentions of these foreign investors or the drawing of a balance of failures or unfair business practices.

If the existence of the USSR served the purpose of uniting the Western world, its demise as an ideological empire and potential nemesis restored the previous relations of power between nations – in other words, the pursuit of supremacy over markets and resources and the creation of long-lasting relationships of dependence.

The evolution of the international situation continued demonstrating the exacerbation of the balance of economic power between the dominant nations on the international scene and in the areas contested for energy and mining resources.

After De Gaulle, no reflection on the growth of power ever completed the defensive approach conceived in the wake of the Second World War.

History shows, however, that up until the Restoration, the elite had had a clear perception of the contribution made by the economy in the growth of a nation’s power, the symbol of which was the model of development based on trade adopted by the United Kingdom. The clarity of French vision about the reality of the relationships between economic forces faded after 1815 when the resistance structure applied by Napoleon to contrast Britain’s commercial offensive was dismantled. London’s strategy of influence based on the propaganda of free trade bore fruits with the rise to power of the future Napoleon the 3rd,: he would sign the free trade agreement with England in 1860 despite opposition from French industrialists. Liberalism as the fundamental basis of the market economy came to replace a realistic vision of the balance of economic power for nearly a century afterwards.

This tendency for the conceptualization of economic warfare during peacetime has legitimized the numerous works created since 1997 by the Paris School of Economic War. Furthermore, by the end of 1988, the continuing lack of competence in the matter of France led Thierry Gaudin, Director of the Ministry of Research’s Prospects and Evaluation (CPE) and Jean-Pierre Quignaux, Secretary General of the Association for the Diffusion of Technological Information (ADITECH) to fund a study on economic warfare at a time when the international economic situation fully warranted its legitimacy.

Harbulot decided to publish Techniques offensives et guerre économique for the first time at the end of 1988, when all the international analyses existed in the conceptual shelter of the Berlin Wall, and talking about economic warfare seemed like an abuse of language. The Wall that had delayed the spread of new technology in the industrial fabric succeeded in disguising the history of certain peoples, the rootedness of their cultures and their national peculiarities for more than thirty years. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the binocular vision of our world was abruptly clouded over. Its geopolitics and the analysis of its economic clashes had to be reconsidered, and it is from this point of view that the retrospective assessment of Christian Harbulot assumes particular significance, with its emphasis on the need for a resumption of research in this field in order to evaluate the consequences of current events and permit a reading of the future sufficient to prevent certain events from occurring.

Harbulot urges to become aware of the threat: in the international market, with competition in every direction, no one can afford the luxury of fighting a war of reaction.

Yet even in France, Harbulot claims, a certain desire for non-aggressive competition still prevails that is certainly not favorable in terms of competitiveness or creating jobs, due also to the mostly verbal and improvised ways in which awareness of economic warfare is transmitted.

The globalization of exchange is changing the very nature of economic warfare. This new state of affairs gives intelligence culture an extraordinary strategic importance, even more so in light of the fact that information is a capital with a long-term return. In addition to being a production factor, it is also an offensive and dissuasive weapon, and the absence of information engineering has become a strategic problem at the level of SMI. Even if, as Harbulot explained, this weakness in regard to foreign competition is not necessarily synonymous with defeat, the French companies’ ability to take action remained insufficient for a long time.

The opening of national markets to foreign exchange has multiplied the difficulty in interpreting phenomena related to competitors and competitiveness. Faced with this revolution in the world market, the approach adopted by French companies remains one of merely “sailing by sight” that has no place in a dynamic national industrial policy.

Active economic aggression measures are a source of concern primarily for the strategic sectors of armament or atomic energy, whereas most other economic actors perceive this type of risk too passively.

Proposals for action in the Martre Report: the third way for French industrial policy

The expression “economic intelligence” officially entered the public debate on national competiveness together with the request for public intervention in regard between 1992 and 1994.

Merit must go to Jean-Louis Levet, Chief of the technological and industrial development service at the Plan’s General Commissariat since 1992 for the possibility to transform the thoughts of Harbulot and Baumard into an official Report. He was convinced on one hand of the need for a radical review of the relationship between the State and industry allowing to seize the new opportunities offered by technological evolution and globalization and on the other of the need for France to implement a new policy of offensive competition on three fronts: the use of natural resources; the use of new strategies for new forms of protectionism, and new ways for the State to intervene in the economy, all of which in the context of a concerted long-term strategy.

Harbulot and Baumard defined the issues to be addressed:

-reflections on the way to encourage economic intelligence at company level;

-the study of foreign economic intelligence systems;

-the development of written knowledge on economic intelligence;

-the development of educational content addressed to higher level university professors and the encouragement of the sharing of experiences between operators in the sector;

-lastly, the launching of a national reflection by public administrations utilizing governmental economic intelligence measures.

The collaboration between Harbulot and Baumard resulted in a joint effort in defining the major working areas for the Plan’s work group, with an objective of methodological nature, namely, uniting the disciplines of information engineering and political nature, or in other words, remedying the absence of a French economic intelligence structure.

Furthermore, the integration of Harbulot into the Plan’s various work groups enabled the reinforcement of ADITECH, which if up until then had been a mere association, since then became the ADIT (Technological Information Diffusion Agency) through Ministerial Decree in May, 1992, under the control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Aerospace and Research Ministry.

In the context of the Report, under the leadership of Henry Martre, a previous Chief Executive Officer for Armament, a work group specifically dedicated to questions of economic intelligence was set up: Baumard would work with Harbulot, the former on the comparative analysis of the world’s economic intelligence systems, the latter on national reflection on the issue.

The Report, which was published in 1994 in La Documentation Française, documented the degree to which French companies were obliged to operate under increasingly more complex circumstances and unpredictable dynamics that demanded the implementation of economic intelligence systems capable of further developing the strategic management of information, economic potential, and the number of jobs. The Report reiterated the meaning of economic intelligence intended as the coordinated research, processing and distribution of information, which can be useful to economic actors. These actions need to be conducted with guarantees of the protection necessary for the preservation of the nation’s business assets in the best conditions of quality, terms, and costs

It was through the work of Harbulot that the term and the definition of economic intelligence first appeared in an official document.

The Report clearly shows Harbulot’s vision: describing economic intelligence as an activity, not another type of information, involving the leading economic players, the companies.

The sources remain open, disproving the argument that paints economic intelligence as being involved in actions at the limits of legality.

However, it is precisely in regard to the greater availability of open sources that certain problems linked to economic intelligence emerge, such as the data distribution and protection: the circulation of data inside the company assumes fundamental importance whenever it transforms into a news leak, a constantly increasing risk in today’s ever more interconnected world.

The Report urged the State to take rapid action, and provided four embracing proposals:

-Involving companies in the practise of economic intelligence

-optimizing the flows of information between the public and private sectors;

-the creation of databases;

-getting the world of education and training involved.

The Report is permeated with the awareness that the problem is primarily political and that reasoning through the dictates of economic intelligence means changing our ways of perceiving the economy:

Economic intelligence, together with the intention to impose an enlarged horizon of comprehension including companies, agencies and nations, provides a response to the urgent need of understanding the economy in other terms than those of mere and overly simplistic competitiveness. The question is political and requires the directors of the organizations above to enter into awareness because it regards a view of the economy that is not neutral”.

The Report issued by the group led by Henry Martre developed a summary of the thought of C. Harbulot and P. Baumard and provided keys to the comprehension of the world. It gave official form to a particular description of the relations between states on the international panorama in which the latter compete with no legal holds barred: the end justifies the means, and above all else, justifies the marshalling of actions in favour of the economy by intelligence services.

Conceived in terms of systems, networks of protagonists, intentions, and influence, and the coordination of decision-making centres, this view gains leverage from the fears derived from the invisibility of the threats. The central position of the State, the guarantor of national cohesion, is confirmed, as is the accent on the importance of unity and national cohesion, taking Japan and Sweden as examples. France can take control of its future only in a collective perspective, therefore must remedy the absence of interaction between the public and private sectors and overcome the usual priority given to maintaining a defensive position, with the objective of mobilizing the political class in regard to the importance of controlling and using information as an arm of domination.

Harbulot accuses both France to be unprepared for “economic warfare” and its policies to continue believing that a united Europe would provide a fertile field for French economic patriotism.

Harbulot defined economic patriotism as a three-dimensional value system, consisting of a cultural dimension that looks to the roots of the productive system; a dimension of conflict based on the relationships between the competing forces, and a temporal dimension influenced by the evolution of technological progress.

In order to promote the passage from an information culture that is closed and individual to one that is open and collective, he suggested creating an economic intelligence instrument through the concerted effort of public and private parties.

For Harbulot, economic intelligence is the systematic search and interpretation of the information available to everyone for the purpose of understanding the intentions and capabilities of the protagonists. Economic intelligence incorporates all the capacity of surveillance of the competitive environment (protection, vigilance, influence) and is distinguished from traditional intelligence by the nature of its field of application (open information), the nature of its actors (inserted in a collective information culture context), and its cultural specificities (each nation’s economy generates its own specific model of economic intelligence). This is represented by means of an economic intelligence diagram with three levels: the companies, the nation, and the world.

Overall, the Report would be judged faint-hearted in the measures it proposed, but more innovative in the vocabulary it employed, by officially introducing, in fact, both the new term “economic intelligence” and a different vision of reality, with the objective of generating a shift in mentality that justified the urgent implementation of a government action plan.

The proposed scope of the Report was the improvement of the offensive and defensive capacities of both national and corporate economic intelligence.

For the purpose of providing these recommendations with a follow-up, Martre promoted the creation of the Comité pour la Compétitivité et la Sécurité Economique (Economic Competitiveness and Security Committee) in 1995 with tasks similar to those of the US National Economic Council. The establishment of the CCSE significantly empowered French economic intelligence, which could already vaunt the fact of having promptly supplied the French government with news regarding the abandoning of the gold standard and the devaluation of the dollar received from US Treasury Department sources at the start of the Seventies. Furthermore, being characterized by close cooperation and trust between the public and private sectors, French economic intelligence also has a highly centralized structure that enables quick reaction times and a noteworthy ease in acquiring confidential information.

The system’s flexibility is achieved through the involvement in the “Economic intelligence structure” at territorial levels.

C. Harbulot was, together with P. Baumard, one of the protagonists between 1990 and 1992 of the construction of French economic intelligence, supported in his conviction that the international context would play a determinant role in the creation of new relationships between the State and businesses business. The discussions about security – promoted on the other side of the Atlantic – along with the political and economic uncertainties linked to the building process of the EU, had already prepared the ground for change.

Christian Harbulot and the creation of “Economic Intelligence”

Christian Harbulot was the first French author to address the topic of economic intelligence, presenting ideas that sparked the debate on its importance, given that the gaining of consciousness of the changes on the international scene could no longer be postponed, and recognizing the priority of economic questions over military ones.

The writings of C. Harbulot are authentic essays on the nature of economic confrontation written with the objective of convincing the political elite that an offensive use of information is a key factor in ensuring a Nation’s success.

Through comparative cultural analysis, Harbulot explained why certain peoples had mobilized and addressed the conflictual aspects of the market economy while others had not, and advanced his reasoning by which information capital is at the same time a leading factor in production but also an offensive weapon, in addition to being an arm of dissuasion.

Harbulot demonstrated how Japan’s economy was further ahead than America’s, and naturally France’s, precisely because it was capable of exploiting all the potential of intelligence activity in the sector. The United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France, and Japan developed their own cultural model of market economy. In particular, Harbulot believed that Germany and Japan had gained remarkable economic leverage from their information and intelligence assets and had implemented more offensive and more effective economic policies because they were based on concerted strategies between private or public companies, between administrations and bank networks. Businesses in these two countries optimized their profitability by reducing the gap between information and intelligence, between open practices and closed practices, between what is available to the entire world and what instead must remain secret, moving from information – the mere awareness of information – to action, or rather information that can be useful for intelligence.

Harbulot often accused French political power of not giving the right amount of importance to “economic warfare”, thus remaining vulnerable to the risk of losing the control of its own economic information independence when faced with the massive growth of the Asian economies, all of which are – as opposed to those in the West – founded on unspoken rules of economic warfare.

For France, instead, the complete ignorance of the offensive potential of information engineering would be the cause of the scarce competitiveness of its companies.

Furthermore, the concept of “economic defence” – intended solely in a military perspective – is equally invalid.

This can be summarized by quoting Luttwak:

A nation’s cohesion is no longer born from the fear of a military threat but an economic threat instead, in a context in which the importance given to military alliances decreases and geo-economic priorities prevail instead.

In short, the elite in power in France still needed to be convinced of the existence and the importance of “economic warfare”.

The term “economic warfare” appeared too strong and radical right from the start, especially when used by authors like Bernard Esambert, who compared a nation’s loss of jobs and wealth and the lowering of its standard of living tout court to the disasters of war. Yet for this author, as well as Harbulot, the underlying idea is that a nation’s economic success is based on the concept of “culture” considered as a weapon that some nations use better than others: Japan’s economic dynamism can be explained by the strength of its cultural power, as might be Germany’s economic power as well. The French economy was playing a defensive game, instead.

However, the vocabulary suggested by Harbulot and terms regarding concepts like “combat culture”, “economic confrontation” and “economic warfare” were seen as scarcely convincing and overly radical. Thanks to the work conducted together with Philippe Baumard, the terms “confrontation” and “warfare” were replaced with that of “intelligence”. The use of the term intelligence derived from a combination of the French definitions of “surveillance” and “veille” and the Anglo-Saxon and Swedish definitions of the concept of intelligence intended as reasoning, planning, and ability to establish relations between various elements, or more simply, active information gathering activities. However, the term economic intelligence invokes an entirely new category in the field of economic geopolitics that expresses new needs for cooperation between the public and private sector.

P. Baumard proposed a methodology for the creation of a business intelligence system before constructing together with Harbulot a common reading of the stakes at risk linked to the new forms of competition based on offensive approaches to information. The ideas of Harbulot that were given most credence and which best describe the French situation are based on the use of subversive cultural elements in economic warfare.

The analyses of Philippe Baumard are very similar to those of Harbulot, especially concerning changes in terminology: from the concept of “surveillance of the environment”, “intelligence” came to signify the “intelligence of the environment” reflecting the prospect of greater tactical and strategic interaction of information.

Various other authors have considered the ambiguity of the term intelligence. The British give it a wider range of significance than the Americans did, for one thing. To make matters worse, difficulties in translation contribute to the confusion. The French word “intelligence”, for example, refers nearly exclusively to a human faculty, the intelligence of an individual, but not the activity of by which a government agency or a private company collects information. The French word renseignement is applied to the activities of national security agencies and not those of private companies or a particular social group: it expresses the product, the information that was collected in the environment, and makes tacit reference to the secret services.

Philippe Baumard focused his work on semantic problems and the difficulties of understanding and using the term in France in regard to the terms “veille” and “renseignment”. Baumard would attempt to renew the image of “vigilance” and “surveillance” in the perception of companies by exploiting the Anglo-Saxon concept of intelligence. However, his meeting with C. Harbulot – whom he even criticized for his use of the French term renseignment, declaring his preference for intelligence, as well as for the expression “intelligence économique” which he preferred to indicate with “economic confrontation” – would lead to the integration of the expression “intelligence économique” in the debate on the adaptation of public actions in regard to the problems posed by the management of information in 1992.

In this way, both style and terminology would become more moderate and closer to the vocabulary used by government administrations.

The progressive development of semantics for the topic contributed to a comprehension of the facts that was more appropriate to the changing times. The function of “vigilance” was very useful to the French contributors, and enabled the shift to the successive concept of economic intelligence intended as information assessed, interpreted, and put to use, also in terms of offence, by companies.

P. Baumard underlined the progress made by the United States in the topic in many ways: with an intense proliferation of texts, with an American economic intelligence community structured around the former members of intelligence services working together in the SCIP association, and with the renewed interest being taken by universities on this issue and journalists who make less confusion between “business intelligence” and spying. In France as well, the reasoning advanced by C. Harbulot proved to be decisive in the implementation of plans for action that would be submitted at the highest levels of government.

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Economy

Pandemic Recovery: Three Sudden Surprise Gifts

Naseem Javed

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A new shine across the globe is entering into boardrooms; a new awakening is enforced and a new shift emerges… the sudden popularity of new awakenings

“Simultaneous Synchronization”: For about a decade, the most difficult concept at leadership discussions in both Public and Private Sectors was ‘simultaneous synchronization’ deployments of national mobilization and upskilling of hidden talents on large-scale digital platforms. The obvious lack of vision and skills at top leadership grossly failed to figure out how all this works. Suddenly this the most talked about topic and now seen as a rapid-fire solution to save broken economies. The pressure cooker with skeleton economies on the boil now released the steam and blew the whistle to attract open-minded innovative thinking. It is finally time to lead, follow or get out of the way.

“Upskilling and Reskilling”: Last many decades the developed economies blatantly ignored this area, now like a shark bite there is global panic on upskilling and reskilling. Ignoring once the almighty German model of apprenticeships treated as young apprentices changing motor-oils but preferred teams of ‘wet behind ears’ young MBA learning hedge-funding charades as better options. Today, upskilling to have skilled citizenry capable of quality productivity, performance and profitability is critical for survival. Trade wars are old schools, internal wars of upskilling to create confident and skilled citizenry to save nations with dignity is now the new survival.

“Big Business Is Big But Small Business Is Bigger”:
Economic heads buried in sands all across Western economies, resorted to election time lip service and allowed SME slip down the drains. Big business is big but small business is bigger. Worship accordingly. Today, heavy membership fees from top firms influence all trade gropus all over the world, from national trade associations to Chambers of Commerce, sacrificing local SME. Do the math.

Pandemic awakened the sleeping giants: All three above challenges now suddenly becoming survival strategies and nation-by-nation and town-by-town new language and dialogues emerging as new gifts. A new series under way with high-level discussions and debates by Expothon covers such topics in greater depths.

The warm facts and cold realties;
No further proof required, as most economies of the world will be shrink-wrapped soon
No further validation needed, as unlimited printing monies will only flush down economies
No further denial accepted, as hologramic stock markets would not save the jobs or nations

When facing truth becomes taboo; facing music suddenly becomes a new occupation; understanding cries of public a new art and swimming against economic currents a new science. In the end, it is the critical analysis and complex problem solving to capture the dodging truth a new survival strategy. The pandemic recovery is no longer election theatrics but all about Mastery of Covidism, isolating novices to deal with recessions, depressions and economic compressions.

The Tribulation Factors:
50% of downtown of the world may not survive,
50% of tall office towers may go empty,
50% of retail shops may go under,
50% businesses may never open,
50% of displaced may not have any jobs soon
50% of office workers may work remote,
50% economies may lose a decade to recover,
50% hailed as successful economy now mostly illusion,
50% political leadership may lose power,

The Brand New Thinking:
100% brand new concepts underway around the world,
100% new skill-transformation underway for new economies,
100% global thinking connecting and shaping new platforms,
100% new vision shaping brand new voice over fakery,
100% rejection of old competency over new thinking,
100% adoption of entrepreneurial mobilization,
100% rise on diversity, tolerance and equality issues
100% critical thinking to face the truth and march forward,

Stand up and claim your expertise. Ask three difficult questions:
Why local or national mobilization of entrepreneurialism and upskilling of small midsize business base cross the nation stalled? When or if ever was there a national or regional bold debate on these specific topics? What possible forces are stopping such activities and why?Depending on style and type of skilled leadership and based on geographic location some, amazing opportunities are alive and active. Study Pentiana Project, especially when all such thinking is not new funding dependent as these are all deployment hungry and execution starved steps.
The rest is easy

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Millionaires for Humanity Petition: Who does not want to sign

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Recently millionaires from different countries signed a petition under the name “Millionaire for Humanity” demanding their respective governments to raise taxes on them to help with the coronavirus pandemic. More than 80 individuals have signed the letter, and most signatories belong to the developed nations like the US, UK, and Germany. One of the key aspects of the petition is that taxes can only create a huge impact against charitable contributions, no matter how generous these contributions are. It might be a rare and historic moment to witness wealthy individuals quoting “Tax us, Tax us, Tax us” to fund the social sector like health, education, and security. The phrase “rebalance our world through wealth tax” seems like a unique moment of truth for the wealthy to play their part towards humanity.

But is the voluntary action enough to counter the state’s inaction to tax the wealthy? A few individuals’ voluntary actions are a drop in the ocean that might not even make a dent to make all wealthy accountable?Wealthy do indeed pay proportionate taxes according to their state laws in many parts of the world. But the bitter truth is that there are also increased tax avoidance cases by the wealthy, which the Paradise Papers, Panama Papers, and other evidence show. That is why there is a rigorous debate on taxing the rich even more.

According to Oxfam’s 2020 report world’s 2,153 dollar billionaires had more wealth than 4.6 billion people or 60% of the world population in 2019. Even in the aftermath of COVID-19 there has been no change in the millionaire’s status quo who actually saw their wealth grow exponentially. According to Forbes magazine report, 10 billionaires gained $51.3 billion or Rs 3.9 lakh crore (at exchange rate of Rs 76) in just a week between April 2 and 9 when the global economy was almost shut (except for a few essentials) and millions were losing their incomes and jobs.They did this through the stock market. These billionaires included Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Mukesh Ambani.

Thus the paper analyses two main issues in relation to the petition. Firstly, why similar actions were not taken by the wealthy in the developing nations, with focus on India? Secondly, will a voluntary compliance mechanism via a petition resolve the ongoing issue of tax evasion by the wealthy?

  1. Why there is no similar petition in developing countries?

The petition seems to appear as a global movement, but in reality, it is a mere representative of the few wealthy individuals residing in developed economies. The less participation and debate amongst the developing countries on taxing the rich can be understood in terms of their societal and cultural background. In India, it is easier to project it as a home to the poorest, but it is also a home for some of the world’s wealthiest people. In this context, it is essential to understand how the wealthier population’s nature changed significantly since Independence and how a favourable tax system helped them to grow.

1.1. From Inherited wealth to private enterprise:

When the British left, a handful of business families and dynastic royalties were in charge of key economic industries. These dynastic royalties had amassed and inherited great fortunes over time due to their close ties to the colonial administration. Although there was poverty amongst the general population, the most lavish lifestyles were only enjoyed by the princely classes, some business houses and large zamindars (landlords).

Primarily the inherited wealth was the primary source of wealth amongst the wealthier population.

However, between 1961 and 1986, India’s notorious macroeconomic plight undermined a progressive effort to reduce the incumbent rich’s size and importance. Low economic growth was accompanied by a sharp reduction of the real value of wealth held by the top 0.1%. The backdrop for this decline was itself rooted in the integration of India when the government quickly took steps to abolish inherited wealth amongst the super-rich royalty. Hence inflation, progressive taxation, and nationalization that characterized the late 1960s and 1970s punished the outdated rentier class and expropriated much-existing wealth.

In the 1990s, domestic and external liberalization happened in India, resulting in the deregulation of taxation and private investment. This led to a rapid increase in stock market capitalization relative to GDP. In fact, given the tremendous rise in stock market capitalization, it seems possible that wealth concentration in India may have surpassed its pre-1970 levels in recent decades. This transformative wealth dynamics of the 1960s and 1970s are crucial to understanding how the elite class, once populated by inherited wealth, is now made up of private enterprises.

However, the rise of the new private enterprise did not address income inequality, only to make the rich richer and the poor more miserable. According to Oxfam’s January 2020 report ‘Time to Care‘ said, in 2019, the wealth of top 1% Indians went up by 46% while that of the bottom 50% by 3%. In 2019, the top 1% Indians held 42.5% of national wealth, which is, more than 4 times the wealth of 953 million people constituting the bottom 70%. The bottom 50% held just 2.5% of national wealth. According to the Credit Suisse’s ‘Global Wealth Report of 2019‘, there were 7,59,000 dollar millionaires in India 2019, up from 725,000 in 2018 and 34,000 in 2010. This shows that even as a developing economy we do not have a dearth of wealthy people who are unable to participate in the petition.

1.2. How the tax system works favourably for the wealthy?

In developing countries, the governments’ primary focus is on resource mobilization, which dictates their tax system. This is due to the unequal income distribution. However, the tax system is also designed in such a way that makes it harder to tax the rich. This is because wealthy taxpayers’ political and economic power often prevents the government from developing fiscal reforms to increase their tax burdens.

Moreover, there are high personal exemptions and the plethora of other exemptions and deductions that benefit those with high incomes (for example, the exemption of capital gains from tax, generous deductions for medical and educational expenses, the low taxation of financial income). India has been an active recipient of FDI for decades. As a result, it results in lower effective tax rates for MNCs.

Simultaneously, the government keeps on slashing the corporate income tax rate during every budget, providing strong incentives for taxpayers to choose the corporate form of doing business for purely tax reasons. For instance, the Indian government slashed corporate tax to 22% (without exemptions) for domestic companies in September 2019, bringing the effective rate to 25.17%  (with surcharge and cess). Such a move happened when the economy had nose-dived for several consecutive quarters.

According to the IMF, the combination of tax incentives and low corporate tax rates leads to the following:

  • Increased incidences of tax evasion due to the ease with which multinationals seem able to avoid tax, combined with the three-decade-long decline in corporate tax rates, undermines both tax revenue and faith in the fairness of the overall tax system and
  • the current situation is especially harmful to low-income countries, depriving them of much-needed revenue to help them achieve higher economic growth, reduce poverty and meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Hence, it can be observed that wealthy individuals are provided with a plethora of tax incentives in a developing economy to prevent capital flight. However, this does not translate into high tax morale for these individuals due to increased tax evasion incidences. Now is the time for the wealthy to take part in the petition to share responsibility in rebuilding the economy.

  • Will the Petition be effective in achieving fair taxation by the wealthy?

2.1. Assessing the problem of tax evasion by the wealthy

Empirical data has shown (e.g., E. Hofmann, Voracek, Bock,& Kirchler, 2017b[1]), that the motivation to engage in tax avoidance and evasion increases with wealth. Recent studies indicate that tax evasion is directly proportional to wealth, with the top 0.01% of the wealth distribution (i.e., households with more than $40 million in net wealth) evades almost 30% of their wealth and income tax versus 3% by taxpayers overall (Altstaeder, Johannesen, & Zucman, 2017[2]). With the aim to minimize their taxes, it is easier for the wealthy to hire tax agents who are skilled in devising ways to achieve that(Sakurai & Braithwaite, 2001[3]).

Tax avoidance is a huge issue that amounts to $240 billion every year (Rs 18.24 lakh crore), according to OECD-G20’s anti-tax avoidance initiative, ‘Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting’ (BEPS). Recent data by Fair Tax Mark shows that Facebook, Google and four other US tech giants, described as the Silicon Six (others being Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple) had avoided paying $100 billion tax (Rs 760,000 crore) between 2010 and 2019. Due to tax evasion, according to 2019 IMF study, the non-OECD countries are losing 1.3% of their GDP or $200 billion of revenue every year while the OECD countries about 1% of GDP or close to $450 billion.

Nonetheless, the blame cannot be squarely put on the wealthy for causing tax evasion. It is the legal, political, and economic context of national tax loopholes which not only give the wealthy many more opportunities to avoid taxes than the average citizen but might also create an ideal environment that legitimises aggressive tax avoidance behaviour.

2.2. How the petition will help in combating massive tax evasion problem?

It can be said that the petition is an example of committed motivation by the wealthy which drives them to pay taxes because of a felt moral duty(Gangl et al., 2015[4]) or due to emotional stress, caused by anticipated guilt or shame (Blaufus, Bob, Otto, & Wolf, 2017[5]). However before delving into the question whether such an initiative will be effective to combat tax evasion in the long run, it is important to understand the social psychological process that motivates the wealthy to either pay or evade taxes.

The wealthy can easily identify and compare themselves with other wealthy individuals as a result of pychological process in relation to belonging to a particular group. As a result they imitate not only lifestyles but also tax behviours out of comparison and competition, because one does not want to fall behind in the financial race (Mols & Jetten, 2017[6]).For instance, if all wealthy friends move money to offshore tax havens, then the individual will also more likely do that.

Also, wealthy individuals do acquire a heightened sense of self-esteem, freedom, and perceived control, which increases the willingness to resist anything that hinders freedom (Brehm, 1966[7]). Taxes on the wealthy is a classical case where the rich find it as an attack on their personal freedom for which they look for ways to fight against it. In fact, experimental research shows that coercive fines and audits increase taxpayer reactance more than less coercive attempts by the tax authorities (Gangl, Pfabigan, Lamm, Kirchler, & Hofmann, 2017). Thus, when faced with coercive form of taxation wealthier individuals will be motivated to employ more resources (compared to the average taxpayers) to escape this situation. This might make the classical coercive attempts to increase the tax honesty less effective.

In such a scenario, the voluntary form of tax compliance might appear as the ultimate solution to fight against reactance. Such a form of compliance comes with trust in the tax system, and thus, people accept their tax obligations without threatening audits and fines. However, state measures like suspending fines and audits or tax amnesties, which gives leeway to rich taxpayers to repatriate their money from tax havens without being fined, also show no long‐term positive effect (Alm & Beck, 1993[8]; Toro, Story, Hartnett, Russell, & Van‐Driessche, 2017[9]). Thus, it is important to combine voluntary and coercive tax measures to ensure fair taxation with a sense of tax honesty on the part of the wealthy individuals.

3. Conclusion

In view of the COVID-19 it is apparent that the petition by the few wealthy individuals brings in a wave of hope towards achieving fair taxation for the sake of humanity. However, the outreach is still not global, with a participation of a fraction of wealthy individuals from a few developed economies.Thus, there is a need to ensure the huge participation of wealthy people, not only from developing economies but those involved in tax evasion.

As discussed in the article,  tax-related decisions of the wealthy are different from average taxpayers due to social psychological differences of belonging to a particular community. So a unique approach must be followed to motivate the wealthier population to pay their share of taxes.

3.1. Possible solutions:

There are many ways to motivate the wealthy, either in developed or in developing countries, to contribute more taxes to the benefit of society. It is true that mere public plea to join the campaign will not attract the attention of majority of wealthy individuals. On the other hand, coercive audit or fines to ensure fair taxation also does not help much towards the cause. For example, a fine of 18.8 million Euros imposed on Portugal’s football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo did not diminish the fame and positive image associated with the player.

One possible solution to influence the tax decisions of the wealthy is to combine coercive and voluntary state measures by publicly naming and shaming the wealthy individuals who resist to be part of the global campaign or pay their fair share of taxes. Thus, if such accusations on famous wealthy individuals like Chief Executive Officers or politicians violate ordinary citizens’ tax morale, these latter might start questioning the reasons for their tax honesty. For instance, after Greece published a blacklist of over 4,000 citizens who owed tax money to the state (Aswestopoulos, 2012[10]),  it experienced a decline in the shadow economy’s size from 25.4% in 2010 to 22.0% in 2016 (Schneider, 2016[11]). This way, identifying evaders publicly may act as punishment and a deterrent from engaging in aggressive tax avoidance. However, it is equally true that shaming needs active public support and media coverage, without which the debate towards fair taxation will lose its grip. So the time is ripe for citizens to join their hands in the global movement towards fair tax and compel the wealthy to be accountable.


[1]Ackermann, L., Becker, B., Daubenberger, M., Faigle, P., Polke‐Majewski, K., Rohrbeck, F., … Schröm, O. (2017, June). Cum‐ex. The great tax robbery. Zeit Online .

[2]Altstaeder, A., Johannesen, N., & Zucman, G. (2017). Tax evasion and inequality . Retrieved from http://www.nielsjohannesen.net/wp-content/uploads/AJZ2017.pdf

[3]Sakurai, Y., & Braithwaite, V. (2001). Taxpayers’ perceptions of the ideal tax adviser: Playing safe or saving dollars ? Working Paper No 5, The Australian National University, Centre of Tax System Integrity.

[4]Gangl, K., Hofmann, E., & Kirchler, E. (2015). Tax authorities’ interaction with taxpayers: A conception of compliance in social dilemmas by power and trust. New Ideas in Psychology37, 13–23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.newideapsych.2014.12

[5]Blaufus, K., Bob, J., Otto, P. E., & Wolf, N. (2017). The effect of tax privacy on tax compliance – An experimental investigation. European Accounting Review26(3), 561–580.

[6]Mols, F., & Jetten, J. (2017). The wealth paradox. Economic prosperity and the hardening of attitudes. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

[7]Brehm, J. W. (1966). A theory of psychological reactance. Oxford, UK: Academic Press.

[8]Alm, J., & Beck, W. (1993). Tax amnesties and compliance in the long run: A time series analysis. National Tax Journal46(1), 53–60.

[9]Toro, J., Story, T., Hartnett, D., Russell, B., & Van‐Driessche, F. (2017). Italy. Enhancing governance and effectiveness of the fiscal agencies. Interantional Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Department . Retrieved from http://www.mef.gov.it/inevidenza/documenti/Rapporto_FMI_Eng.pdf

[10]Aswestopoulos, W. (2012, January). Finanzamt stellt “Liste der Schande” ins Netz. Focus Online . Retrieved from http://www.focus.de/finanzen/news/staatsverschuldung/liste-der-schande-viele-deutsche-unter-griechischen-steuersuendern_aid_706059.html

[11]Schneider, F. (2016). Estimating the size of the shadow economies of highly‐developed countries: Selected results. CESifo Dice Report14(4), 44–53.

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Economy

Decoding European Union’s Economy

Aakash Agarwal

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European Union (EU) is a political and economic union which consists of 27 member countries. It acts as one economic unit in the world economy and is considered a major world trading power. They are subject to obligation and privileges of the membership. It focuses on comprehensive growth of all countries.

The Formation

The EU was formed to end the centuries of warfare that culminated during World War II. The union was founded in 1992 with the Maastricht treaty but was given its reformed structure and powers in 2007 with the Lisbon treaty. Under these treaties, the 27 members agree to come together with their sovereignty and delegate many decision-making powers to the unified body. Currently, there are seven official EU institutions which are made for the executive, judicial and financial functions. The primary aim of this treaty was to boost economic social and political integration amongst the nation.

The European Central Bank is the EU’s central bank . It regulates monetary policy and manages bank lending rates and foreign exchange reserves . The institution over the

years has expanded and strengthened its own authority. It has proved to be a competent institution and is serving its purpose.

However, It has also faced a series of unforeseen circumstances including the 2008

economic crisis, an influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa and Brexit Negotiations. In June 2016 the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Unionand officially from 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom is no longer part of the EU.

Breakdown Of The Economy

Most countries that are a part of the European Union and use the same currency Euro. A group of nineteen of the twenty-seven EU members use the Euro currency. Therefore the trade process is simplified and the rest of the EU is also legally required to join the eurozone at some point. In terms of the total value of all the goods and services, it is considered bigger than the US economy. The 19 EU member states that comprise the euro area accounted for 85.5% of the EU’s GDP in 2019. However, due to the unforeseen circumstances implemented across the world in 2020 GDP is down by 3.8% in the euro area and 3.5% in the EU.

The EU’s trade structure has helped it to become one of the world’s largest economies after China. In 2018 it surpassed China’s GDP with a difference of $3.3 trillion. These measurements use purchasing power parity to the account of discrepancy between each country’s standard of living. Some experts argue that the EU produces more but the US still a larger economy, whereas the US is a country and the EU is a trading area which compiles the 27 countries. Despite the eurozone debt crisis, the EU is staggering towards a bigger fiscal integration. The EU’s currency, the euro has successfully competed with the global currency dollar. The EU’s exports in 2019 were for products petroleum, automobiles and medication while its top imports are petroleum, communications equipment, and natural gas.

Classification Of Eu Budget

The biggest chunk of the percent spent on the agricultural sector. Which includes the direct payment to farmers development of fisheries, forest and rural areas. The second chunk goes into economic, social and territorial cohesion, which is meant to help the EU’s less developed countries. It includes infrastructure, job development, technical assistance for

Small business. The rest is spent on research and development and building the EU’s foreign policy which is under Global Europe. The EU budget must balance as it has no authority to spend more than it takes in.

Trade

The 64% trade is undertaken within the EU states. The trade with the rest of the world accounts for some 15.6% of global imports and exports. The EU countries had the second-largest share of global imports and exports of goods in 2016.

Employability

After the global economic crisis and eurozone turbulence in 2008, the employability saw a rise in future.


The Economy Post Covid-19

The world economy has witnessed a plethora of ups and downs in this pandemic. European Union leaders sealed a 750 million – euro ($857billion) deal for their coronavirus blighted economies after a marathon talk. The EU was slow to coordinate initially with the pandemic and already weakened by Brexit, It was important for an upfront on economic aid which would demonstrate its come back. Earlier it has been observed bitter rows over how the grants would be managed. Council President Michel said securing a deal as “not only about money, it’s about people, about the European future, about our unity.”

Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel said on Monday that EU leaders had come up with a “framework” for a possible agreement. Whereas Michel told, “This agreement sends a concrete signal that Europe is a force for action”. French President Emmanuel Macron, who spearheaded the deal with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, hailed it as “truly historic”.

But Currently, Countries like France, Spain and smaller nations in the EU have been adversely affected, It is believed that the economies of France and Spain will shrink by over 10%. The Country’s GDP is not expected to return to last year’s level before 2022. Earlier this month that it expects the EU economy to shrink 8.3% in 2020, The European Commission said considerably worse than the 7.4% slump predicted two months ago.

Comparisons With India

The deficiency in India’s COVID relief package is inadequate fiscal spending ( just 1% of GDP). For spending more the government will have to borrow more. However, without spending, the economy will likely struggle a little longer. Whereas in the EU package Euro 390 billion of grants. Cheap loans and credit guarantees are important but for a declining economy, stress should be given more to wage subsidies and emphasis on the MSME sector.

The meeting of the EU is the first major in-person gathering of world leaders since the COVID-19. The ideal emphasis which every leader is saying is the concept of ‘fundamental of the internal market should begin again with all necessary precautions and not just countries most affected by the crisis but also for those which benefit the most from the internal.

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