Rising wealth and income inequality has led to growing social tensions in many countries and driven an increase in international frictions. One mechanism for addressing this problem is tax policy. However, not only have governments in major economies shied away from more redistributive fiscal policies, but in many cases have pursued highly regressive systems of taxation. A major underlying reason for this has been the outsized role of financial markets in the modern global economy. The relative mobility of capital versus labour has posed challenges to governments seeking to impose higher taxes on large corporations and the wealthy, particularly as global fiscal competition has heated up in recent decades. Mr. Fok’s recently published book, Financial Cold War, explores how the structure of the international financial system has contributed to growing tensions between China and America. Among other areas covered in this book, he specifically examines the role of taxation in contemporary financial markets and the risks posed by growing fiscal imbalances.
James Fok is a veteran financial and strategic advisor to corporations and governments. He served as a senior executive at Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) from 2012 until 2021, during a period of rapid internationalisation in China’s capital markets. Prior to HKEX, Mr. Fok worked as an investment banker in both Europe and Asia, specialising in the financial services sector. He has written and spoken extensively about market structure issues and the intersection between geopolitics and international finance. He serves or has served on a number of financial industry bodies, including Ireland for Finance’s Industry Advisory Committee (2021-), the Executive Board of the International Securities Services Association (2018-21), and the Financial Services Advisory Committee of the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council (2014-21). He is also a member of the Advisory Board of Hex Trust (2021-). Mr. Fok holds a BA (Hons) from the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London.