The Transnational Corporate System in the late 1990's
Transnational direct investment in less developed societies in the 1990s is consolidating further the historical regional spheres of influence by the former colonial powers.
By and large, Latin America, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe are becoming more than ever "spheres of control of production and trade" by the financial and industrial centers of the world.
Globalization is a task undertaken by the transnational corporate system, and the system has three clear centers (United States, Japan, and the major economies of the European Union). Those centers attract almost totally the flows of international payment to factors of production, creating a financial situation where capital flows from poor societies to rich societies, as it was in the times of colonization and imperial expansion from the 1500s to the 1930s.
The other main characteristic of the transnational corporate system during the 1990s was the speeding up of "mergers and acquisitions" which is one indicator of concentration of capital.
According to 'Financial Market Trends', OECD, July 1997, privatizations were a large contributor to acquisitions: "worldwide receipts from privatizations amounted to a record $88 billion in 1996, of which $68 billion came from OECD countries"...and, the most dramatic fact is that "in many countries, particularly in smaller OECD countries and in the developing world, the sale of public companies to foreign investors has been the primary source of inward investment in recent years". That is, the contribution to new investments has been very small.
'Financial Market Trends' indicates that "global flows of direct investment are dominated by mergers and acquisitions in value terms. In the United States, for example, acquisitions represented 85 per cent of foreign investment in 1995, with establishments contributing only 15 per cent"..."By all accounts, mergers and acquisitions reached record levels in 1996"...and..."the impact of cross-border mergers and acquisitions on total foreign direct investment flows is likely to
grow in the future".
It is estimated that after eight years of continuous growth cross-border mergers and acquisitions reached a record $263 million in 1996, which is equivalent to about 80% of the total amount of flows of foreign direct investment towards less developed societies.
The OECD publication explains that "international and national mergers are driven by the same general set of industrial considerations, but there are nevertheless certain differences in emphasis depending on whether the merger involves firms from different countries. International mergers arise partly because markets are still segmented and the acquisition of a local firm afford the quickest access to the foreign market. Domestic mergers are more likely to be driven by the desire to achieve economies of scale, although even national markets may also be segmented to some...