The practices of banks, private equity funds, insurers and other financial actors may seem complex and elusive. Yet they profoundly affect people’s lives and the global economy. And not just during periods of crisis.
Inequality, poverty eradication, jobs, housing and even climate change are all related to how the financial sector functions and is regulated. The lack of proper oversight, prudent regulation, and transparency in the sector continues to put the economy, people and societies at unnecessary risk.
SOMO examines how the financial sector functions and analyses the social and environmental effects of financial sector practices, rules and legislation, and the way in which decisions about the sector are made.
We advocate for a new financial system that is not only financially stable, but also enables societies and economies to develop in an equitable, inclusive, and environmentally sustainable way.
Today’s economic system is a system for corporations and investors: it maximises their profits regardless of the social and environmental costs.
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.
We work with others in the Netherlands, in Europe, and across the globe, to fundamentally change the economic system so it serves the public interest and facilitates a more equitable distribution of resources. Our goal is for people to be able to control their own economic lives through democratic processes.