Europäische Zeitgeschichte

Global Tax Chains. Actors and practices of global capitalism in the second of the half of the 20th century.

18 Januar 2024 bis 19 Januar 2024

Global tax chains workshop
International workshop co-organised by Jakob Vogel (Centre Marc Bloch) and Benoît Majerus (C²DH).

As chains of wealth became global in the world economy (Seabroke&Wigan, 2022) so did tax strategies. These topics have gained increased attention in the last fifteen years as the crisis of 2007/2008 renewed the discussion on inequalities and (fiscal) justice. Humanities and Social Sciences played an important role in framing debates on this topic. Wealth was perhaps less produced by manufacturing cars or building houses than by moving capital across jurisdictions, creating multi jurisdictional spaces where national states, global companies, local financial plumbers and international organisations created, maintained and governed global tax chains.

This workshop has a dual purpose. On the one hand, it intends to take stock of these ongoing international and interdisciplinary debates. On the other hand, it intends to deepen the historical dimensions to phenomena that are beginning to be well documented for today's world, but still sometimes lack temporal depth. Not only did notions of fiscal justice and legitimate tax engineering change over the decades but legal and also technical infrastructures on national and international levels were profoundly remodelled. If long-established fiscal experts such as lawyers reinvented themselves as coders of capital (Pistor 2019), new professions arose around tax practices such as the large audit companies.  If tax chains became global in the last 50 years, this was only possible because there was no real globalisation of tax regulations. National particularism created a differentiated world of legal markets that allowed the evolution of a complex network of competing tax chains. In the context of the changing political world order during and after the Cold War, the complex international fiscal arrangements added an important but rarely publicly discussed dimension to global capitalism. If the ever increasing technicisation of tax law and its framing as an expert knowledge intrinsically only open to a small minority of initiated professions and their clients worked as a powerful anaesthetic for public debates, the recurrent financial scandalisations (Mazbouri et al., 2020) not only offered glimpses of hidden practices, actors and structures but also created recurrent publicity and therefore politicisation of tax regulations on the global level.


18-19 January 2024

Centre Marc Bloch
Friedrichstraße 191, D-10117 Berlin




18 January 2024

14.00 - 16.00   
Chair: Ekkehart Reimer (Universität Heidelberg)
Benoît Majerus (University of Luxembourg)  /Jakob Vogel (Sciences Po – Paris)
  Tax lawyers of the world, unite! Mitchell B. Carroll (1898-1987), transnational tax networks and international capital
Matthieu Leimgruber (Universität Zürich)
  Facilitating the setting up of foreign banks in Switzerland: board members as influential intermediaries (1950s-1970s) 
Thibaud Giddey (Universität Zürich)
16.30 - 18.00  
Chair: Charlotte Bartels (DIW Berlin) 
  Distributed Ledgers
May Hen-Smith (University of Cambridge)
  Governing Global Tax Dodgers: The Group of Four’s efforts to curtail multinational tax avoidance, 1970s-1980s.”
Vanessa Ogle (Yale University)

19 January

09.00 - 10.30   
Chair: Eric Monnet (Paris School of Economics/EHESS, Wiko Berlin)
  ‘Loophole Capitalism’: a legacy of tax haven platforms and offshore finance of the 1960s and 1970s
Kristine Saevold (Norwegian Tax Administration)
  Tax Haven Reoriented? The Emergence of International Tax Governance from a “Swiss” Perspective
Gisela Hürlimann (Universität Dresden)  
11.00 - 12.30   
Chair: Alexander Nützenadel (Universität Humboldt, Berlin)
  The International Fiscal Association: The German section and the Turn to Neoliberalism
Marc Buggeln (Universität Flensburg
  Tax guide books and the norms of paying taxes in the 1970s and 1980s: a transnational analysis
Korinna Schönhärl (Universität Paderborn)
14.00 - 16.00   
Chair: Ralf Ahrens (Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam)
  Finding shell companies
Thijs Busschots (EU Tax Observatory)
  Opportunities, pitfalls, and emerging powers in the changing tax law landscape
Katerina Pantazatou (University of Luxembourg)
Glenda Sluga (EUI Florence)