"I think we should avoid that temptation to do something now just because it feels good to do something," Desai says. According to him, the inversions we're seeing now are simply the unanticipated effects of the legislation passed in 2004. Increasing the requirements on foreign ownership, then, might be a salve that not only would be temporary, but would also open up problematic possibilities down the line.
In recent years, a number of U.S.-based corporations with significant international holdings have shifted their headquarters overseas in an attempt to lower their tax bills. Harvard Business School's Mihir Desai is an expert on tax policy, international finance, and corporate finance.
"While it is tempting to characterize corporate tax reform as a sop to big business, we know that the burden of the corporate tax is borne by shareholders, workers, or customers. And much of the available evidence points to the majority of the burden being borne by workers, a result that is intuitive when one compares the relative mobility of capital, labor, and products," Desai said.
Georgia-based Southwire staffed a plant with troubled teens, who proved that hard work can overcome hard knocks. In the process they pioneered a model for education reform nationwide.
"It's a remarkable win-win-win. Students are graduating, the school system loves it, the company makes money. It's mutually beneficial," says Harvard Business School's Jan Rivkin, who has closely studied the company's efforts.
Some tax experts testifying at Tuesday's hearing cautioned that narrow legislation could prove counterproductive even if it successfully deters some companies from reincorporating overseas. For instance, raising the threshold of a foreign company's ownership for inversions could prompt bigger foreign companies to get involved in the transactions. That could result in the U.S. portion of the company shifting more of its jobs overseas, including high-paying headquarters jobs, said Mihir Desai, finance professor at Harvard Business School.
Mihir A. Desai, a professor of law at Harvard University, said punitive legislation could be counterproductive.
"Legislation that is narrowly focused on preventing inversions or specific transactions runs the risk of being counterproductive," he said. "For example, rules that increase the required size of a foreign target to ensure the tax benefits of an inversion can deter these transactions but can also lead to more substantive transactions."
Mihir Desai, Harvard Business School professor, shares his thoughts on corporate tax reform ahead of Tuesday morning's Senate hearing.
American drug companies AbbVie and Mylan won't be American long if all goes as planned. Both are involved in international mergers (worth $53.6 billion and $5.3 billion, respectively) with the ultimate goal of moving their home bases abroad.
Professor Mihir Desai comments to Mark Garrison on "Marketplace."
The Indiana enginemaker believes deeply in the anachronistic idea that investing in its community is smart business. Could it be on to something?
"What they're doing is just taking an intelligent self-interest in their community rather than a selfish interest," says Harvard Business School professor Joseph L. Bower, who has studied Cummins.
Pfizer, the maker of best-selling drugs like Lipitor and Viagra and a symbol of business prowess in the United States for more than a century, no longer wants to be an American company.
On Monday, Pfizer proposed a $99 billion acquisition of its British rival AstraZeneca that would allow it to reincorporate in Britain. Doing so would allow Pfizer to escape the United States corporate tax rate and tap into a mountain of cash trapped overseas, saving it billions of dollars each year and making the company more competitive with other global drug makers.
Dorel is closing the bicycle industry's last assembly operations in the United States and shifting the work from Pennsylvania to third-party suppliers in Asia.
The long-awaited and hard-earned return to profitability at the country's largest auto suppliers, reported by the Wall Street Journal last week, reflects deep structural shifts underway in the nature and organization of advanced production in the United States.
Because of rising labor costs in China and elsewhere, the mathematics supporting offshoring of former American jobs has drastically changed for the worse, according to Harold Sirkin, senior partner at Boston Consulting Group.
Employees at Roper Corp. in LaFayette, Ga., blasted patriotic country music and waved red, white and blue pompoms while they waited for Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to arrive Friday to recognize the plant's expansion.
U.S. auto sales continue to accelerate, posting the best July performance since 2006 as consumers flocked to dealerships to replace aging vehicles with new models at low interest rates.
By 2008, Detroit's "Big 3"—Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Chrysler—were teetering, and two required federal government assistance to stay afloat. Within three years, remarkably, the Big 3 had turned around by improving competitiveness in quality, design, and cost, as well as through strong, decisive leadership on multiple fronts and improved union relations.
Harvard Business School Professors Michael Porter and Jan Rivkin lay out policy steps for the president and Congress to follow in order to make American companies more competitive and their employees more prosperous.
After decades of sending work across the world, companies are rethinking their offshoring strategies.
Why are firms placing a huge bet on what some analysts are now calling "re-shoring"? And what factors should global managers take into consideration when they decide whether or not to bring manufacturing lines back to the U.S.?
The Chinese and Indians can plan all they want, but market forces have a way of crushing state-supported optimism. Because of its stronger social cohesion, economic flexibility and educational strength, the United States will remain the most popular haven for foreign investment.
Daniel Cunningham has a billion-dollar idea for Apple: Start building the iPhone intended for American markets in the United States. The result? A billion dollars in additional profit for the company.
How can America possibly sustain its culture of innovation when assets are so vulnerable to cherry picking by cash-rich Chinese companies? This issue — not last month's unemployment rate — should be the central issue as the U.S. tries to decide who will be its president for the next four years.
The migration of Japanese auto manufacturing to the United States over the last 30 years offers a case study in how the unlikeliest of transformations can unfold.
U.S. growth will increasingly depend on selling goods and services to foreign consumers who do not necessarily speak English. Yet American students are woefully unprepared to do that.
As we celebrate the success of the National Export Initiative and its positive impact on our economy, we must also commit to ensuring that its momentum continues. Providing more opportunities and support for U.S. companies to export their goods and services makes good economic sense--and American workers deserve nothing less.
Why are big companies not investing more in the United States? Findings from Harvard Business School's U.S. Competitiveness Project were discussed at a fascinating meeting of business leaders in New York Monday evening.
When a business school solicits alumni, it's usually to ask for donations. Last night, though, the school hit them up for something they may find harder to give: a commitment to use whatever influence they have to get their companies to invest in the local workforce, raise U.S. median wages, and support local suppliers.
Wages in China and other parts of the developing world are rising, reducing the incentive to send jobs overseas. Add in concern about quality control and shipping costs, and the result will be more manufacturing jobs created in the United States, says W. James McNerney, president and CEO of Boeing.
Professors Michael E. Porter and Jan W. Rivkin frame the HBS project on U.S. competitiveness by defining "competitiveness," assessing the state of U.S. competitiveness, and pinpointing dynamics that threaten America's competitiveness.