Opinion | Towards a nationalism of platforms

it Is likely that our past-dreams of science-fiction juveniles are skewing the economic debate this. While we expected a society of robotic, the capitalism of p

Opinion | Towards a nationalism of platforms

it Is likely that our past-dreams of science-fiction juveniles are skewing the economic debate this. While we expected a society of robotic, the capitalism of platforms has expanded silently, and it is just a crowd of humans that now make drivers, postmen or delivery of food, with its generally status of self-employed workers and concise contributions, represent a significant challenge to the sustainability not only of our pension system, but the State of well-being. Even more if we take into account the creativity prosecutor of these platforms are transnational, which allows them to circumvent the direct tax, in the case of the north american, or, even, also indirect, in the case of the asian. Aspect of the latter which is usually ignore when they questioned the management of the corporate tax of Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook, among other north american. This “infratributación” further impairs the competitiveness of local enterprises, which provide their activity in the traditional markets transcripts of the platforms.

But it would be short-sighted to focus our analysis on only some of the unresolved issues of this business model which, in a darwinian way, is colonizing the major markets of goods and services. It seems more convenient to start by its indisputable competitive advantages. The platforms have managed to carry the practice to the quasi-utopia of some of the components of the model of perfect competition in attractive markets virtual. True ecosystems in which they operate a multitude of suppliers and demanders of homogeneous products in environments of perfect information, and transaction costs negligible. Which supercede markets real at times very far from these principles, as would be that of rentals, taxis or, in general, of all those products and services with small size of its local demand. This impersonation, to reduce appreciably the prices of exchange, it makes the markets to expand exponentially, creating new jobs, even with rates of economic growth contained, as the current.

The paradox is that this appearance of perfect competition is limited to the virtual environment, since the greater the success of the company that manages the platform, generating clear economies of network, the higher the probability of becoming an oligopoly, or even monopoly, that can become global. This trend, a growing market power, it is very likely to remain if it meets the forecast, widely diffused, that by 2025 30% of the global economy will be generated at platforms.

As in any market oligopolistic, it is easy to find situations of abuse of power. For this reason, in the same way that there is a division for crimes telematic the Guardia Civil, it makes sense the existence of a specific division of other institutions (for example, the CNMC) to monitor these markets and their operators, seeking to protect customers and workers.

The high-speed expansion of this business model, coupled to an underestimation of its importance by certain european Governments, has left many issues unresolved. From the already before mentioned, the need for a better definition of the labour relations, through the respect of the rights of property and privacy, especially in platforms, asian, or subjecting them to taxation responsible. This last seems to have been achieved in terms of the VAT, which can make the Black Friday 2020 the last big event for a tax-free of our era. More difficult is the case of reaching a global agreement in regards to direct taxes. In this case, the European Union does not have a clear incentive to promote a tighter regulation, not to enjoy his collection, which also would be against certain partners, such as Ireland or Luxembourg, which based much of its international competitiveness in offer significant tax advantages in the same. The call rates of Google in each country appear as the only viable option in the short or medium term, yes, with the risks of possible trade wars involving this way.

But in the face of these unresolved issues, the big question that we must ask ourselves is what is called to be the european paper in general, and the Spanish in particular, in this business model. Currently it is residual in the first case, and irrelevant in the second. Only between 2% and 3% of the general headquarters of the big platforms, according to their market value, are located in Europe. The face of this model, that de facto cede the management of a growing number of markets of goods and services on the platforms alien, we have the asian model, which could be defined unambiguously as a nationalism platform. In it, the main operator of local in these virtual markets is usually a version native to the original american. Furthermore, it has been decreasing the waiting time between the original release in north america and the local, until you reach the current situation of launch, a quasi-set of both initiatives, both on the western shore of the Pacific as well as eastern. In this way, although Alibaba, the chinese version of Amazon, was born five years after the first, or Didi, the chinese equivalent of Uber, launched three years later, we see how Wechat emerges only two years after WhatsApp, while Instagram and Sina Weibo were born at the same time. Similar examples can be found in Singapore and South Korea and even closer geographically (Russia).

Meanwhile, the countries of the European Union lack a common strategy and, in most cases, as in the mediterranean countries, nor is there a national strategy. Limited, in great measure, to look with distrust of this new business model, more concerned with keeping the status quo of the affected markets by developing local initiatives. Have not even been able to offer a few rules of the game homogenous in its territory to allow european platforms to achieve economies of scale quickly.

For our country and for the whole of Europe, a policy that addresses this phenomenon as a whole is becoming more and more necessary. Not only to solve the many new challenges that the platforms are causing in our societies, but to the emergence of true champions local, taking advantage of the low entry barriers that there are, given the reduced capital requirements to develop these virtual markets.

Santiago Carbó Valverde is a professor of Economics from Cunef and a contributor of Funcas. is José Ignacio Castillo Manzano is professor of Economics at the University of Seville.

Updated Date: 12 January 2020, 03:01

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