The case against a financial transactions tax (web publication)

Why it won't work and will damage the economy

Executive summary

  • There is strong economic evidence that the proposed Financial Transactions Tax (FTT) would not increase the amount of tax revenue collected by governments. In fact it would reduce total tax revenue by shrinking the economy.
  • Workers and consumers in general - not the banks - would carry the main economic burden of the FTT. Wages would be lower because the tax would increase the cost of capital, thereby reducing growth in productivity.
  • Returns on pension funds and other savings would also be lower, in part because the FTT would increase the costs of buying and selling shares as well as reducing their values.
  • The FTT would not have prevented the financial crisis, nor would it have avoided current sovereign debt problems. The tax would shrink those parts of the financial markets which did not contribute to the recent crisis but would not make much difference to the factors that caused the crash.
  • The FTT would not reduce volatility; it would increase it. Market movements will come in larger steps if speculation is discouraged. It is preferable to have deep and liquid markets so that changes are incremental and smooth.

 

2011, Current Controversies 33

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