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Larry Catá Backer

Organized and targeted state interventions in private markets, especially with respect to investments beyond their own territories, have raised complex issues. Particularly when undertaken in the form of Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs,) these public activities in private markets raised issues with respect to the viability of the private market-based foundations of globalization. How one understands the nature, and character, and therefore the boundaries of legitimate organization and operation of SWFs remains an under-theorized though highly politicized endeavor. More important, perhaps, was the political objective in what might have appeared to be a more anarchic and polycentric global ordering – the development and control of a master narrative, of a transcendent and universal truth, of SWFs. This chapter examines SWF characteristics in different areas and regions. The chapter postulates regionalization grounded in three distinct narrative foundations for SWF regionalism – an economic purpose narrative, a legalist narrative, and a corporatist narrative. The first currently serves as the ‘master narrative’ of SWFs, the lens through which SWFs are understood and around which analysis (especially social science and political analysis) and theory tend to be structured. The other two are alternative narratives that sometimes layer and sometimes seek to displace the master economics narrative. Each produces its own approach to SWF regionalism. The author’s thesis is that the distinctive narratives within which SWFs are conceptualized produce forms of regionalization that provide a powerful tool for structuring analysis of differences among national SWF models. In particular, the ‘regional’ categories discernible through the distinctive lenses of the narratives produce clearly distinctive ‘regions’ of SWFs, grounded on the logic of the narrative rather than on the geographic home of the SWF. Section 2 considers the logic of each of the narratives. Section 3 then considers regionalization under each of these narratives, with a focus on the connection between geographic and narrative regionalism.

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Larry Catá Backer

The state occupies a curious place in the contemporary global order constructed through markets and multilateral frameworks of regulatory governance. The state retains its core function as an apex form of regulation within its territories (even as the forms that this regulation takes shifts). At the same time, the state has become an important participant within the markets it itself regulates. Through its state owned enterprises (SOEs) and other instruments, the state engages in economic activities within its territories as regulator and producer; outside its territories those instruments of state economic power operate within complex and evolving law, norms and rules functioning like other commercial ventures in global markets. SOEs also share the state’s dual character – as market participant and as the projection of state power in markets. This chapter considers the challenges and opportunities, from a human rights governance perspective, of this dual character of the SOE. Section 2 considers fundamental issues of the nature of state obligations and the definition of SOEs. Section 3 then examines the central question of this chapter – given the structures and trends in the development of frameworks for business and human rights, where and how do SOEs fit into these structures? The section first examines the way that emerging international soft law regulatory structures envision both the character and the role of SOEs within these human rights based regulatory standards. It then considers future challenges for SOE accountability under dynamically evolving international standards. The section ends with a set of brief recommendations.

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Larry Catá Backer

This chapter considers the nature of the relationships among TNCs, political actors and government, as a set of emerging ecologies of political economy. Each represents a distinct response to the transformation of the global legal, economic and political order in the face of globalization. Each exists autonomously and is evolving simultaneously, yet each is significantly interconnected within a polycentric governance order that lends overall structure without a centering position. The chapter starts with the conventional and traditional ecology of relationships, centered on the state. It then considers the three most distinctive forms of emerging relational ecologies emerging that de-center the state. The first is based on the TNC as the centering element of production chain order. The second is grounded on the emergence of non-state governance centers that assert order through certification, verification, and monitoring. The third posits the emergence of a multi-stakeholder autonomous and self-referencing system around production chains. The chapter briefly considers whether there is something like meta theory structuring the disaggregated and scattered by intermeshed systems that have arisen around the state. The chapter ends with a brief suggestion of what may lie ahead.