Sunday, July 6, 2014

U.S. sanctions against the BNP and the emergence of a tripolar legal world. Part II: the European response

The European response to legal and financial penalties imposed on the BNP is imminent. One could even say that it has already arrived in 1957.

At the end of the Second World War the Allies realized that the Franco-German rivalry that had already resulted in three wars in less than a century should be permanently stopped.

A thorough study of different options to extinguish this wildfire, resulted in these different parties to create a European Economic Union (in addition to the ECSC Coal and Steel Community and Euratom) linking the protagonists of close economic means and manners in attempt to avoid any future conflict to spare their immediate economic interests.

In short: trade to prevent a new war.

This is the origin of the Treaty of Rome in 1957.

A central pillar of the Treaty of Rome and the economic and legal practice of the Union of European States is the Policy of the Concurrence, or Competition. In fact, it is a legal, political, financial and economic outcome of the antitrust laws of the United States, a body of legal doctrines and powerful laws to limit the adverse effects of large financial groups and dominant in the U.S. economy start at the time by the Rockefeller oil company: Sherman Act 1890, Clayton Act 1914, and the Federal Trade Commission Act 1914. This is by any means to avoid monopolies and market dominance, or oligopolies.

Over the years, the competition policy of the European Union has become independent of its American origins. And copy it became innovative and very strong. Today, the policy of the European competition is much more developed and efficient than the U.S. antitrust policy.

The favorite weapon of the European Commission in Brussels and the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg to enforce competition is the administration of huge fines to companies and particularly to U.S. multinational companies, such as Intel ($1.4 billion in 2009); Microsoft ($1.2 billion in 2008) or even Microsoft with ($757 million in 2013; in fact if Brussels had applied the rule to the end the penalty could rise to 10% of global turnover Microsoft and become a $7.9 billion fine.)

The new weapon of Brussels has evolved by the recent directive Barnier put under de facto control of the major credit ratings agencies which have greatly contributed to the huge scale of the subprime crisis of 2007-2008 by promoting uncontrolled creation of MBS the Mortgage Backed Securities and their subsequent explosion.

Now the rating agencies, primarily U.S. are accountable before the European Commission.

Americans, like the British in the famous phrase of Count Anterroche at the battle of Fontenoy, fired first. But the outcome of the battle was not in their favors.

Here it is fortunately only financial conflicts.

But should the U.S. financial control authorities have unsheathed first, facing European sanctions, which has the arsenal of financial and legal control that they themselves furnished?

As they say, time will tell and bets are open.

Prof. Olivier Chazoule