Call an Amazon Truce, Top Economists Tell Cities Vying for HQ2

(Bloomberg) -- Some of America’s top economists are none too pleased with the tax benefits and other perks Amazon.com Inc. stands to reap as cities bid for its second headquarters, dubbed HQ2.

That’s clear from the list of names under a Change.org petition urging cities to band together and agree to stop offering the company massive incentives. Signatories include Harvard University’s Edward Glaeser and Robert Putnam, University of Toronto’s Richard Florida, University of California at Berkeley’s Enrico Moretti, Columbia University’s Jeff Sachs, Princeton University’s Alan Krueger and former White House Council of Economic Advisers chair Jason Furman.

Without naming names, they’re scathing about the multibillion-dollar packages that “at least four” jurisdictions are promising to pony up. New Jersey is offering a $7 billion tax incentive to make Newark attractive, and Chicago and Montgomery County, Maryland also offered plans that could reportedly add up to billions.

Call an Amazon Truce, Top Economists Tell Cities Vying for HQ2

“This use of Amazon’s market power to extract incentives from local and state governments is rent-seeking and anti-competitive,” the petition reads. “We call upon you to forge and sign a mutual non-aggression pact that rejects such egregious tax giveaways and direct monetary incentives for the Amazon headquarters.”

The contest to host HQ2, the group said, “threatens to spiral out of control.”

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