Fall 2008

SWF’s Are Making Political Waves in the U.S. and EU

I have been asked to provide an assessment of the current political climate in the U.S. and its impact on the debate about Sovereign Wealth Funds and also to discuss the potential ramifications for future transatlantic and international collaboration on this front.

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Europe Must Present a Single Market to SWF’s

Sovereign wealth funds have become the latest topic du jour in international finance; their rapid expansion is sparking political debate on both sides of the Atlantic and, it is fair to say, fuelling a certain amount of anxiety as well.

Sovereign wealth funds are nothing new. The very first fund was established by the Kuwait Investment Office in 1953 and the number of funds jumped in the 70s and 80s as rising oil prices allowed oil producers to set up funds.

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U.S. Flap on the Aerial Tanker Could Be Self-Defeating

“We in [Britain] are supporting you on your Joint Strike Fighter. Why are you not supporting us on the tanker?” This simple question, posed by Prince Andrew – the Duke of York and a man deeply involved in British industrial exports – to the representative of a major U.S. defense contractor at the 2008 Farnborough International Air Show last July in Britain, bares the frustration many Europeans in the defense industry have felt as of late. In other words, if the United States wants expanding international cooperation on warplanes in order to field stronger, more affordable modern Western air forces, is it helpful for Europe to see so many chauvinistic-sounding complaints in the U.S., especially in Congress, about the choice of a new in-flight refueling tanker for the U.S. Air Force? After a major competition for that important, long-running contract, the Pentagon chose a plane to be built by an international team involving Northrop Grumman-EADS, the European consortium that owns Airbus. The losing design came from Boeing, the U.S. aerospace giant that traditionally has been the sole supplier of in-flight refueling aircraft to the U.S. Air Force.

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Norway’s Wealth Fund Answers to Voters

Norway has a sovereign wealth fund that is often held up as a model of transparency both to the country’s citizens and to the outside world where it makes investments. It is financed with surplus wealth produced by Norway’s income from its production of petroleum. Even if the name was recently changed from “petroleum fund” to “pension fund,” the fund has no responsibilities for paying pensions.

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Europe Can Offer Defense Deals Washington Can’t Refuse

The decision of U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to set aside the award of the U.S. Air Force’s gigantic new air tanker contract to the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) and its American partner Northrop Grumman dealt a body-blow to the principles of free trade and mutual cooperation in defense procurement in the Atlantic Alliance. But major European defense contractors should not despair: To a much greater degree than most people realize there remains a wide spectrum of opportunities for the Europeans to boost their exports to the United States and thereby simultaneously strengthen defense capabilities on both sides of the Atlantic.

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