Note: This is the original longer version of an Opinion Piece arguing for imposing caps on banker bonuses that appeared in the Guardian newspaper on the 25th of Feb 2013.
The European parliament is right to limit the maximum bonus bankers can command as a proportion of base salary. This will help tackle the culture of excessive risk-taking and the bending of rules that has now become endemic to banking. Undertaking this at an EU-wide level will also limit any large-scale migration of the so-called ‘talent’. It will reduce the risks borne by tax-payers and go a long way to rehabilitate the industry, making it focus on serving the real economy again.
Re-Define's efforts for the Eurozone to adopt a Growth Compact are succeeding, albeit haltingly. Having first laid out such a compact to sit aside the Fiscal Compact in January when we are a lonely voice, we have now been successful in getting most EU institutions and several key leaders to come out in support of such an agreement at least in principle. This post, which frist appeared on Business Insider on Thursday the 3rd of May reminds EU policy makers about what the esstential elements of an agreement to try kickstart growth need to be.
Unless the EU signs up to a Growth Compact soon, we face social, political and economic disaster. Swift action on tax, banking and investment is the way out of the crisis.
The EU, in common with other major economies of the world, loses a significant amount of potential tax revenue every year to tax evasion and tax avoidance. Some EU-wide estimates are as high as 500 billion – 1,000 billion Euros annually.
This tax loss takes two major forms 1) domestic and international. Domestic tax losses come about when the taxable funds are not shipped overseas but stay within the country. This form of tax loss is on the decline as the increasingly electronic nature of financial transactions and an economy that is less and less cash oriented make domestic avoidance harder.
At the same time, tax flight, the loss of tax revenues related to cross border flows of funds, has been rising rapidly.
Our new paper for the European Parliament highlights how old approaches to international governance are increasingly out of date in the day and age of increasing globalization. We now live in a world that is highly interconnected, is full of externalities and is increasingly fast paced. (Available for download in our publications section)
The ever faster and larger cross-border flows of commerce, people, and information technologies has reduced the idiosyncratic risks by allowing us access to an increasing array of options for example for investments or suppliers. At the same time, the higher degree of interconnectedness that this has brought about means that the risk of system wide failure – the dominoes all falling together - has increased significantly as demonstrated by the recent world wide collapse in cross border finance and trade.
Existing international governance structures to pursue shared global goals and manage externalities were designed at a time when systemic risk, externalities and the pace of change was much slower. These institutions and their approach to global governance now look increasingly out of touch. There is an urgent need to plug this governance gap that grows by the day.
The German government recently decided to purchase stolen data revealing tax avoiders hiding money in Swiss bank accounts. This is a risky move diplomatically, but, for Germany, the gains from tackling this tax flight appear to outweigh the risks. It is also illustrative of the proliferating efforts by individual governments and the international community to clamp down on tax flight: the loss of tax revenue due to cross border tax evasion or avoidance.
However, the recent spat between Switzerland and Germany is merely the tip of the iceberg; symptomatic of what is one the most serious systemic failures of our time: the lack of intergovernmental cooperation on cross-border financial matters.