Why Investment Matters
The Political Economy of International Investments

by Kavaljit Singh

first published 18 April 2007

A major challenge today is to democratize investment: If the buying and selling of assets for profit is not to undermine the public good, the public has to define that good and to frame the policies and laws that hold investors to account when their actions do undermine the public good.

A first step in doing so is understanding how investment works. This 178-page book details the central role of transnational corporations (TNCs) and other key players in determining investment patterns. Using case-studies, statistical data and cogent analysis and written in an accessible language and style, it makes a critical appraisal of contemporary investment issues as it maps investment flows, trends and regulatory frameworks.

It debunks the myths surrounding investment flows. Foreign direct investment (FDI), for instance, is not an automatic route to economic growth, but can lead to an outflow of capital rather than an inflow. The South has in fact become a net exporter of capital to the North, particularly to the United States, prompting a growing backlash against foreign investments in many Latin American and Asian countries, and Russia.

The book suggests ways in which investment can be brought back under the democratic control of people and governments and shows how citizens are working to reclaim investment for the public good.