Nobel-Prize-Winning Economist Condemns Obama’s ‘Trade’ Deals

Eric Zuesse

The Nobel-Prize-winning former chief economist of the World Bank, and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the U.S. President, Joseph Stiglitz, went to England to warn the British public, and Parliament, that “no democracy” can support U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposed trade-deals, because all of these have a feature built into them, called Investor State Dispute Resolution, or ISDS, which will establish a supra-national authority that gives international corporations the power to sue any signatory nation that introduces new or increased economic regulations regarding product-safety, the environment, workers’ rights, or anything else that the corporation alleges lowers the corporation’s profits; and because these cases will be tried not in courts that are subject to the given nation’s constitution and laws, but instead by private three-person panels of mainly corporate lawyers, and their rulings will not be subject to being appealed within the given nation’s court system — the panel’s decison will be final. There will be no democratic accountability at all, regarding regulations and laws that are designed to protect the public: environmental, product-safety, and workers’ rights. The existing regulations will be, in effect, locked in stone, or else decreased — never increased, no matter how much the latest scientific findings might indicate they ought to be. That’s because the international corporations’ panels will have powers above and beyond any signatory nation’s constitution and laws. ISDS gives international corporations the right to sue taxpayers; it does not give any government the right to sue an international corporation (and that also means no right to sue such a corporation for having filed a frivolous lawsuit against the taxpayers). It’s a new profit-center for international corporations, in which those profits are coming from the taxpayers of nations that lose these lawsuits — and these cases will explode in volume if Obama’s deals get passed.

Stiglitz was speaking specifically about the TTIP, which is Obama’s proposed trade-deal with Europe,  and he based his analysis upon the published proposed TPP, which is its companion trade-deal for virtually all nations that are in or on the Pacific. (Wikileaked texts indicate that the TTIP is basically similar to TPP.)

In the article by Huffington Post that reports on Stiglitze’s comments was this, from Stiglitz:

“There’s nothing to stop you, in TTIP, from passing regulations. You can keep the regulations. You would just have to keep writing a cheque to [cigarette firm] Phillip Morris every year for the profits they lost from what they would have been if they had been able to kill people in the way they had in the past,” he said. “Every year you would have to write them another billion dollar cheque.” …

He said it would mean “any government that passes a regulation that has an adverse effect on the profits of a company can be sued” by that company.

Stiglitz said the lawyers who drafted TPP designed it to be so strict that if governments passed regulations “trying to prevent polonium in baby cereal” companies would sue. “This is not a joke,” he added.

Previously, on the basis of a legal analysis of Obama’s trade-deals, a leading legal expert at the United Nations, explained why (as my headline summarized it) “UN Lawyer Calls TTP & TTIP ‘a dystopian future in which corporations and not democratically elected governments call the shots’.” That lawyer was saying essentially the same thing as Stiglitz, but from a legal not an economic standpoint.

For information specifically about the motivation behind Obama’s trade-deals, see this.

Obama’s proposed ‘trade’ deals have not yet been passed into law in the United States. Here are the positions of leading U.S. Presidential candidates regarding whether they will favor or oppose them if they become the next U.S. President on 20 January 2017:

Hillary Clinton supports and was actively involved in producing Obama’s proposed trade-deals, but they became too unpopular among Democratic primary voters and so during her Democratic Party primary campaign for the White House she reversed her previous verbal position on the matter, just as she did in 2008 when she condemned her husband’s more-limited model, the NAFTA, after her having actually helped him to win approval for it in the U.S. Senate.

Bernie Sanders has condemned and voted against Obama’s trade-deals consistently. His actions have matched his words.

Donald Trump also condemns Obama’s proposed trade-deals, but his opposition, like Hillary’s, is merely verbal while he’s running for President, and though he (unlike Clinton) has no active record of having helped to produce these deals, he (like Clinton) does have a record of switching his positions in order to win votes. He’s not like Sanders; he can’t be trusted (or, at least, not intelligently  trusted).

More details about these deals, and their origins, can be found here, which provides the deeper historical context, going all the way back to the U.S. Constitution. 

Specifically regarding the corporate panels that will, in a sense, become an international-corporate world government if these deals become law, the details of that can be found here.

Essentially, what both Stiglitz and the UN’s lawyer are saying is that, if these deals become law, then workers’ rights laws, and product-safety laws, and environmental laws, won’t be able to be increased — not even, for example, in order to meet the verbal commitments that were recently made at the Paris conference on climate change. (Those ‘commitments’ to reduce global-warming gases would automatically become not merely unenforceable — which they already are — but they would become outright impossible to fulfill, because any effort to put them into place would produce crippling corporate-lawsuit-imposed fines against taxpayers.)

When Stiglitz said, “This is not a joke,” he was saying, essentially, the same thing as the UN lawyer did: “We don’t want a dystopian future in which corporations and not democratically elected governments call the shots. We don’t want an international order akin to post-democracy or post-law.” He was saying: Don’t assume that the future won’t be an international-corporate dictatorship, because that now is actually quite likely. If both of these agreements become law, then even the publics in non-member nations will almost certainly become crushed, because they’ll be essentially boycotted by international corporations: both employment and consumption will collapse there. The interntional corporations would still come out way ahead, no matter how impoverished those people might become.

President Obama has specifically targeted the BRICS nations for that type of crushing treatment. He says this within a moralistic context in which he also says “the United States is and remains the one indispensable nation.” He said that on 28 May 2014, when he told graduating cadets at West Point this too:

“Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors.  From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us.”

None of the five BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — is included in either of these two ‘trade’-pacts: Obama was telling America’s future military leaders that those are enemy nations, which those future U.S. military officers might be fighting against in their careers, and he was placing that prospect into a broader economic  (not merely military) context. Obama’s ‘trade’ deals are about lots more than merely  ‘trade.’

It’s widely expected that at least the TPP, if not also the TTIP, will become passed into law in the United States at some time between the November 8th U.S. Presidential election and the start of the new Presidency on 20 January 2017.

Both of these ‘trade’ deals are being rammed through Congress in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Treaty Clause. Apparently, the U.S. Constitution no longer rules in the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court has never considered the matter (even though it would entail overthrowing a large portion of the U.S. Constitution if it becomes passed into law and sticks). However, if Obama’s ‘trade’ deals become passed into law, and remain, then what Stiglitz said, “This is not a joke,” will also mean that no intelligent and decent person will want to have children, unless that person wants them to live in a downward-spiralling dictatorship — which is what that would mean (and which would hardly qualify as being ‘decent’).

The vote that the American people will be making on November 8th could thus turn out to be the most important vote in the entire history of the world: the stakes are so large — for the entire world. And that’s no joke, either. If these proposed deals are not already too late to stop, this could well be the last chance. And to say that isn’t ‘apocalyptic,’ either: there’s nothing at all of ‘Scripture’ referred-to here. There’s nothing that’s at all ‘supernatural’ about this. It’s pure reality: very hard, very cold, and very real (and very profitable for the international billionaires whose agents have been pushing for this ever since at least 1954).


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.