Greetings from New Zealand, where I am the Cameron Visiting Fellow at the University of Auckland Faculty of Law for the next three weeks. An article in yesterday's NZ Herald caught my eye. UK Telegraph commentator Allister Heath opposes government efforts to block Pfizer from buying AstraZeneca:
There is no room for nationalism in business, and no place for meddling politicians. Countries still matter immensely but their role is now as hosts and hubs: they provide the legal and physical infrastructure, the workforce and the tax system.
Companies locate themselves wherever makes sense to them, guided almost exclusively by commercial considerations. That is the reality of the world in which Western as well as emerging nations operate, and we should embrace, not fear it, for it works better than any other system when it comes to creating growth, productivity and jobs. ...
I basically agree with his argument, so long as we're talking about countries with more or less shared values on issues like the rule of law, protection of intellectual property rights, and so on. In contrast, Heath would carve out only "a very small number of exceptions relating to genuine questions of national security," which I don't think goes far enough.
In any case, I certainly agreed with his ultimate conclusion:
On balance, competitive profit-seeking capitalists are less likely to take bad decisions than politicians, and countries that allow market forces to determine ownership, investment, research and jobs perform better than those that politicise business.