Here is a nice little piece by Oliver Hartwich, a highly talented researcher at the Centre for Independent Studies in Australia.
As he notes, it’s amazing how easily Australians are persuaded by the claim that every time someone buys products of a foreign-owned company, the profits will somehow disappear and harm Australia’s prosperity.
In New Zealand, we also hear the ‘sending profits abroad’ argument in the context of the privatisation debate.
Leaving aside the likelihood that some significant part of the profits of a multinational may be reinvested in the host country, the article notes:
If the parent company however decided to transfer the profits from its Australian branch to America, it would soon find out that Australian dollars are pretty useless outside Australia and change them into US dollars.
And then it gets to the nub of the issue:
But what happens to the Australian dollars? Since Australian dollars don’t buy anything abroad, they will return to Australia to buy Australian goods and services. Maybe a US company will use them to buy Australian minerals. Perhaps US tourists will come here to spend their holidays. Or the US might import Australian-made cars.
In any case, Australian dollar profits transferred abroad return to Australia sooner rather than later because outside Australia, our dollars are just printed paper that will not get you a cup of coffee.
So the conclusion is:
This is where the ‘Australian-owned’ argument falls to pieces. For Australia’s wealth and prosperity, it does not matter where the profits from Australian businesses end up. All that matters for the Australian economy is that Australia remains a place where business transactions take place – irrespective of who owns the business.
Would that more New Zealand journalists and commentators exposed the fallacy of the ‘sending profits abroad’ argument.