Mark Blyth in The Guardian:
In the early 90s, governments started buying into an argument about capital mobility, taxes and welfare states: in a world of global capital, investors will seek the best returns they can get globally. If those returns are reduced by “distortions” such as taxes, investment will flow to countries that tax less. Consequently, those expensive and expansive welfare states that neoliberal economists had always targeted had to go. Funding them through taxing the wealthy and corporations would lower investment and employment, so the story went.
Governments across the Organisation for Economic Co-ordination and Development (OECD) used this argument to cut taxes on both individuals and corporations. The UK’s corporate tax rate fell from 34% to 19% between 1990 and 2019, while the US’s rates fell from 35% to 21% over the same period. But rather than those reductions leading to an explosion of investment in both countries, investment levels actually fell, as the tax-savings made were taken as profit and pushed into asset markets. In the UK, gross fixed-capital investment fell from 23.5% of GDP in 1990 to 17% in 2019. In the US, it fell from 23.5% to 19%.
While utterly failing to promote investment, what such changes did set up was ruinous tax competition between states.