This course explores the intended and unintended consequences of cross-border economic transactions. How are people and national economies affected by trade, foreign debt, migrant labor contracting, cross-border monopolies over seeds and medicines, and corporate tax avoidance using tax havens? We examine the role of transnational firms (TNFs), asking who wins and who loses from such firms' activities, and from the rules governing them. How and why have such rules evolved? How powerful are TNFs over people and governments in the countries that host them, and why? Case studies include management of mineral, energy, water, and land resources; efforts to curb tax havens' facilitation of crime, corruption, bribery, and tax evasion; debt-driven dependence on private lenders and multinational organizations (IMF, World Bank); and the likely impact of proposed agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We consider standard views along with alternative approaches that analyze power structures and suggest solutions.
- Teacher: Mehrene Larudee