Skip to main content Accessibility help

Neo-liberalism at a Time of Crisis: the Case of Taxation*

  • Dries Lesage (a1) and Mattias Vermeiren (a1)


This essay explores how the global financial crisis of 2008–2009 has affected the stability of what Stephen Gill has termed the ‘new constitutionalism of disciplinary neo-liberalism’,1 more precisely, in the realm of international tax policy. Rather than providing an in-depth and complete empirical study of the matter, this essay will highlight certain interesting developments and touch upon a series of possibly relevant questions that could form the basis for a future research agenda. In the first section, we will examine the remarkable strength and resilience of the new constitutionalism as the institutional component of neo-liberal hegemony. Then we will proceed to an exploration of the impact of the crisis on this hegemony, also paying attention to deepening geopolitical multipolarity as an additional variable. The final, more empirical section will investigate the case of international taxation in this context, and demonstrate that new constitutionalism remains a crucial supporting pillar of neo-liberal globalisation.



Hide All
1.Gill, S. (2008) Power and Resistance in the New World Order. 2nd Edition, Fully Revised and Updated (Houndmills Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).
2.Cerny, P. G. (1997) The paradoxes of the competition state: the dynamics of political globalization. Government & Opposition, 32, pp. 251274.
3.Keohane, R. O. (1984) After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).
4.Keohane, R. O. and Nye, J. S. (2000) Globalization: what’s new? What’s not? (And so what?) Foreign Policy, 104119.
5.Swyngedouw, E. (2004) Globalisation or ‘glocalisation’? Networks territories and rescaling. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 17, pp. 2548.
6.Gill, S. and Law, D. (1989) Global hegemony and the structural power of capital. International Studies Quarterly, 33, pp. 475499.
7.Devos, C. (1999) The myth of globalisation and its strategic consequences, Demokritos. Mededelingen van de Vakgroep Politieke Wetenschappen. Universiteit Gent.
8.Fougner, T. (2006) The state, international competitiveness and neoliberal globalization: is there a future beyond the competition state? Review of International Studies, 32, pp. 165185.
9.Schmidt, R. (2001) Efficient capital controls. Journal of Economic Studies, 28, pp. 199212.
10.Helleiner, E. and Pagliari, S. (2009) Towards a new Bretton Woods? The first G20 leaders summit and the regulation of global finance. New Political Economy, 14, pp. 275287.
12. Nevertheless, the crisis could never have occurred without free capital mobility. As noted by Dieter, H., Seabrooke, L.and Tsingou, E. (2009) The Global Credit Crisis and the Politics of Financial Reform. GARNET Policy Brief No. 8. ‘A key aspect of the current crisis is that the US was able to draw on the savings of Asia and continental Europe, drowning itself in a sea of foreign liquidity. Restrictions on capital flows would have prevented the US crisis and subsequent global contagion as the US would have had to finance its spending exuberance from domestic savings – since that would not have been possible, the bubble would not have inflated as much as it has. In their various formats (restrictions, taxes, reserve requirements) capital controls might therefore have been a legitimate tool of economic policy.’
13.Thirkell-White, B. (2009) Dealing with the banks: populism and the public interest in the global financial crisis. International Affairs, 85, pp. 689711.
14.Baker, A. (2009) Deliberative equality and the transgovernmental politics of the global financial architecture. Global Governance, 15, pp. 195218.
15.Porter, T. (2009) Why international institutions matter in the global credit crisis. Global Governance, 15, pp. 39.
16.Tsingou, E. (2010) Regulatory reactions to the credit crisis: analysing a policy community under stress. In: E. Helleiner, S. Pagliari and H. Zimmermann (eds) Global Finance in Crisis: The Politics of International Regulatory Change (London: Routledge).
17.Lardy, N. R. (2002) Integrating China into the Global Economy (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press).
18.Alden, C. and Vieira, M. A. (2005) The new diplomacy of the South: South Africa, Brazil, India and trilateralism. Third World Quarterly, 26, pp. 10771095.
19. Although China (eventually supported by the other BRICs) has criticised the inefficiencies associated with the global dollar standard and is increasingly trying to promote the international use of its currency, financial liberalisation will be a necessary condition for its currency to acquire global currency status (Eichengreen, B. (2009) The dollar dilemma. Foreign Affairs, 88). In this way, China’s contestation of one of the main pillars of US hegemony may lead it to embrace one of the main pillars of neoliberal hegemony – free capital mobility.
20.Mah-Hui Lim, M. (2008) Old Wine in a New Bottle: The Subprime Mortgage Crisis - Causes and Consequences. Working Paper No. 532 (New York: Levy Economics Institute).
21.Cori, N. (2008) L’Europe sonne la réouverture de la chasse au paradis fiscal, Libération, 22 October.
22.Lesage, D. (2008) Global taxation governance after the 2002 UN Monterrey conference. Oxford Development Studies, 36, pp. 281294.
23.Elliott, L. (2009) IMF chief backs down on Tobin tax. The Guardian, 23 November.
24.Treanor, J. (2009) Tobin tax gains supporters in the City as lord mayor criticises bonus culture. The Guardian 16 November.
25.Mathiason, N. and Treanor, J. (2009) Gordon Brown in secret push to sell ‘Tobin tax’ to City. The Guardian, 9 November.
26.Traynor, I. and Clark, A. (2009) France and Germany back UK bonus tax. The Guardian, 10 December 2009.
27.Pratley, N. (2009) Banks face insurance levy and a tax on financial transactions. The Guardian, 8 December 2009.
28.Lesage, D., McNair, D. and Vermeiren, M. (2010) From Monterrey to Doha: taxation and Financing for Development. Development Policy Review, 28, pp. 155172.
29.Gurría, A. (2008) The global tax dodgers. The Guardian, 27 November.
30.Mathiason, N. (2009) New threat for UK’s offshore havens: tax. The Guardian, 28 October.
31.Foot, M. (2009) Final Report of the independent Review of British offshore financial centres (London: Crown).
32.(Anon.) (2009) Les banques françaises vont quitter les paradis fiscaux, c’est promis, Libération. 1 October.
34.Mathiason, N. (2009) US tax investigators win fight to force UBS to disclose accounts worth $18bn. The Guardian, 19 August.
35.OECD (2009) Countering Offshore Tax Evasion. Some Questions and Answers on the Project (Paris: OECD).
37.Faiola, A. and Jordan, M. (2009) Tax-Haven blacklist stirs nations. The Washington Post, 4 April.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Neo-liberalism at a Time of Crisis: the Case of Taxation*

  • Dries Lesage (a1) and Mattias Vermeiren (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.