European flagsPhoto: EU - Pietro Naj-Oleari

The financial sector plays an important role in the functioning of economies and societies worldwide. SOMO investigates the ways in which banks, insurers and other financial conglomerates influence the lives of people and poverty and sustainable development, with special focus on  developing countries.

We study not only private financial enterprises, but also the ways in which the financial sector is being regulated and  liberalised internationally, nationally and at EU level. With these studies, we show how regulation, policy and private initiatives in this sector do or do not lead to sustainable development.

SOMO also publishes a bimonthly newsletter in cooperation with German NGO WEED to update civil society, academia and politicians on various policy processes around financial reforms in the EU and internationally.

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the bigger picture

Economic Justice

Today’s economic system is a system driven by shareholder value and the interests of large corporations: it maximises their profits, often ignoring the social and environmental costs. The current globalised world does not offer a sustainable level playing field, and as a result, corporations are caught in a race to the bottom.

SOMO wants to contribute to a fair economic system, in which corporations and investors contribute to financing public goods and services, and governments and institutions implement adequate checks and balances, serving social and ecological interests.

Private gain, public loss

SOMO’s research reveals how the current economic and financial system perpetuates economic inequality, and how it exacerbates the power imbalance between the private sector and civil society. Through corporate tax avoidance. Through trade and investment agreements that give companies the right to sue governments for enacting sound social policy. Through a volatile financial system that is increasingly disconnected from the real economy. It is a system of private gain and public loss that leaves ordinary people paying the price.

Our focus is on the social and economic impact of tax treaties and regimes, trade and investment mechanisms and agreements, and the practices and lobby of the financial sector. We pay particular attention to the impact of Dutch and EU policies on low-income countries, examining the degree to which they cohere with sustainable development policies and human rights frameworks.

Economic changes

We work with others in the Netherlands, in Europe, and across the globe, to adapt the economic system, so it serves the public interest and facilitates a more equitable distribution of resources. We want people to be able to control their own economic circumstances, through democratic processes with adequate checks and balances.

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