THE MULTINATIONALS by Christopher Tugendhat


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This work does not pretend to be a massive or comprehensive study of the multinational corporations or their significance. Its objective is to sketch how the multinationals work, the history behind their growth, and the revised structure of world trade, with emphasis on the corporate dynamics linking production and finance across national frontiers. Tugendhat, formerly a staff member of the Financial Times of London, has a down-to-earth grasp of the subject buttressed by a plethora of current factual evidence which typifies the Times and his own previous work in Oil: The Biggest Business (1968). Multinational octopi are prodigious indeed: a Canadian tractor firm producing in the U.S., sells in Canada, and uses British-made engines, French transmissions, and Mexican axles; Ford's integration stretches from Bordeaux, Dagenham, Cologne, Brussels, and Ontario to New Jersey. The conventional notion of world trade as business between nations is replaced by the multinational reality that buyer and seller are often one and the same. Trade between Ford plants in Belgium and Germany constitutes one-sixth of Belgium's total exports and imports; 22% of Britain's exports are accounted for by transactions between related concerns. Their economic weight and their ability to overcome national tariffs, taxes, monetary restrictions, and the tight control exercised by parent companies over affiliates and subsidiaries has given rise to increasing friction with host governments. Tugendhat stresses the multinationals' dependence on the Eurodollar and Eurobond markets and the way current monetary instability plays havoc among these export-oriented firms. On the whole it's an excellent overview for the general reader though less scholarly than Vernon's Sovereignty at Bay (1971).

Pub Date: March 1st, 1972
Publisher: Random House