EconPol Opinions

Cover EconPol Opinion 2018

Activism pressure and the market for corporate assets

Ulrich Hege and Yifei Zhang

Does activism affect the acquisition and asset sale decisions of firms that are only indirectly affected by activists? Has activism grown sufficiently in importance that it influences the equilibrium in corporate asset markets, and what is its impact on the liquidity and efficiency of these markets? These are the questions posed by EconPol researcher Ulrich Hege and his co-author Yifei Zhang in this EconPol opinion examining the rise of shareholder activism and its international expansion.

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The death of the European Banking Union

Timo Wollmershäuser

In July 2017, Louis Rouanet argued that the bail out of two Italian banks, Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza, would be a ‘deathblow to the European Banking Union’. EconPol researcher Timo Wollmershäuser agrees, and says the correlation between risk premia for sovereigns and banks has since sharply increased to the high levels observed before the start of the Banking Union.

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Fixing the euro needs to go beyond economics

Anne-Laure Delatte

The agenda to fix the euro is hampered by conflicting national interests. Creditor countries demand fiscal house cleaning and debtor countries ask for risk sharing. There is currently a political deadlock about how the adjustment burden should be distributed, perpetuating a state of vulnerability that is not in the collective interest of euro area members. This column, part of the Vox debate on euro area reform, argues that overcoming this coordination failure requires reforming the political governance of the EU, rather than just its economic governance.

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US China trade war and Europe: ‘If two quarrel, the third rejoices’

Daniel Gros

With Trump’s trade policies becoming apparent, China has emerged as enemy number one. Meanwhile, other trading partners – particularly smaller ones - are being pressured to introduce concessions with advantages for the US. A key question for the rest of the world is what economic fallout to expect from this trade war. EconPol researcher Daniel Gros suggests that the US will attempt to put similar pressure on the EU, but it is unlikely that this pressure will succeed.  But with the US expected to pursue its policy of trying to isolate China with other smaller trading partners, the political and systemic costs of the Sino-US trade war could be considerable in the long run.

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Digitalisation should be promoted, not taxed

Clemens Fuest

A 3 percent tax on digital turnover, recently proposed by the European Commission, will stifle digitization in Europe and will only encourage other countries to take countervailing measures, says EconPol expert Clemens Fuest.

The Commission justifies the new tax with the observation that companies like Apple or Google sell their goods and services in Europe but pay almost no profit taxes here. This overlooks that current international tax agreements do not stipulate that companies pay profit taxes in the countries where they sell their goods. Profits should be taxed where these goods are developed and produced. In the case of the global internet giants, this is the US. Whether or not the US exercises its right to tax these profits is not a concern for the EU.

Countries where the goods are sold do collect value added tax. Europe could of course try to change international tax rules. But that would mean it loses the right to tax the profits of its exporters - their profits would be taxed in China or the US.

Instead of introducing new digital taxes Europe should promote digitalisation and focus on creating a European internal market for the digital economy.

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