In Mr. Blunt and Cranky’s July 3rd post, he said that foreign individuals and organizations were buying the loyalties (such as they are) of U.S. officials.    It was pointed out to him that there was no evidence that anyone without U.S. citizenship was listed in the story, and it was further posited that the B & C premise du jour was fatally flawed. That impression was entirely due to this blogger’s having had a bad writing day, and he accepts the forty lashes via keystrokes that he quite justifiably received.

Note that he does not consider the premise itself to be incorrect. There are a goodly number of examples of U.S. citizens who have made money overseas and then contributed large sums towards American election efforts, oftimes with the tacit or active support of their overseas employers. Google “Adelson Macao” for one representative case. So, even if you cannot prove that a specific Yen, Dinar, Pound, etc. from a personal or business account was converted to a Dollar to be part of a specific contribution to a campaign fund, we can see that these individuals and entities make money overseas and then contribute via channels various and sundry to American candidates.

Thus the “what”. But the “why” is always the more important bit. So, why do businesspeople and businesses spend money? Obvious answer: to earn a profit

For-profit businesses, foreign and domestic alike, exist to be profitable. Even socially-responsible for-profit businesses must make a profit if they are to do the “good works” to which they aspire. This means that handing out free money is unethical for a for-profit entity.  Understand this well: if a business spends money, it is ALWAYS looking for a return on its investment (ROI, in business jargon).

 American politicians provide a fantastic ROI for the savvy investor: a few tens of thousands of dollars can provide millions in return. Look at some of the no-longer-required tax breaks for oil companies, for instance: once justifiable due to market conditions, they are actually working against the overall market in the current day and age. But they remain in place because of campaign contributions (bribes, by any other name) that buy the votes of the politicians who receive these funds. Very profitable, sometimes a several-hundred-percent ROI or better.  Quite the good investment (for the investor, of course. For the rest of us, it can cause great financial pain).

So, back to Barclays U.K. and its apparently legal fundraising employees. What’s their ROI for being the ninth-largest source of funds (so far) to the Romney campaign? In a word, deregulation of its U.S. interests and trading partners.  Romney has pledged to roll back post-crash regulations, and Wall Street (and its international analogues) loves them some de-regulation. Bigger bucks can be made when no one is looking (or even allowed to look). Well worth finding a way to funnel money across the pond.

If we get hung up on technicalities, we run the risk of missing the big picture: that being the ever-increasing influence of financial globalization and economic interdependence on the conduct of American electoral politics and the related financials.

In fine: businesses are after profit. They are investing in Romney so as to make a profit. If he wins, the investors will make out like bandits. And many of the rest of us will wind up with what is called a “negative ROI”; AKA, our loss.

Mr. B & C