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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.

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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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Updates on this topic

‘Light touch’ reform proposals for EU banks

This article is based on an analysis by Finance Watch, which can be found here. At international and EU level, new bank reforms are being introduced to avoid practices that contributed to the 2008 financial…

The financial risks facing the year 2017

The year 2016 has been full of surprises and volatility on all fronts: 2017 is facing similar challenges. The latest issue of the SOMO-WEED Financial Reform Newsletter provides an overview of the multifaceted, intertwined problems: The…

The EU financial legislative programme: what’s next?

Although there have been many complaints by the financial sector that there has been too many new EU legislations and regulations, there are still quite some initiatives and ongoing legislative proposals at EU level, some…

Lobby by Dutch banks

Dutch banks spend millions on lobbying

Dutch banks spend millions on lobby through their own channels, through interest groups like the Association of Dutch Banks (VNB) and through lobby organisations in the Netherlands, the EU and worldwide. At the same time,…

Update: STS securitisation still in the doldrums

A major aspect of promoting the Capital Markets Union (CMU), whereby more financing is sourced from investors rather than banks, has been the push for a revival of securitisation (packaging of loans, sold to investors)….

Update: The EU becomes active on green finance

After Commissioner Hill, responsible for financial regulation and stability (DG FISMA), left in June 2016, the new responsible Commissioner, Mr Valdis Dombrovskis, has dynamically taken up the issue of green finance. As a result, there…

How Europe failed to regulate high frequency trading

Article based on a blog by Benoît Lallemand, Finance Watch Super-fast trading in micro-seconds on financial markets (“high frequency trading”) has been one issue in the revision of the Directive on Markets in Financial Instruments…

A landmark decision on the FTT

On the margins of the EU finance ministers’ meeting on 10 October 2016, the ten EU countries participating in the negotiations over a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) made a decisive step forward. Belgium, or more…

The deep fall of a global player

The crisis of Deutsche Bank and its perspectives Deutsche Bank has been the pride of the German financial industry for many years. It was founded in 1870 and was an important financier during the period…

In the starting blocks for a Super-Singapore?

Brexit and the finance sector By: Peter Wahl The Brexit has been a historic break for the EU. It will also have major consequences for the financial sector, both in Britain and in the EU….

Big words, little action

The EU has finally reached agreement on the Anti Tax Avoidance Directive. Several NGOs have criticized the Directive, arguing it will not do much to combat tax avoidance in practice. They say little remains of…

Towards a volcanic eruption?

New EU rules against bail-outs in times of crisis By: Peter Wahl The new rules to govern and manage the European financial system that emerged after the financial crisis have already shown that they are…