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Big news! -- Passage of the “Tobin Tax” by the European Union (EU). 

EU finance ministers cleared the way for 11 members to introduce a trading tax.  This tax can raise billions in euros from the financial services industry and deter speculation, particularly the high-frequency trading type.

The U.K., Europe's leading financial center, decided not to adopt the new levy and abstained, along with bank center Luxembourg, the Czech Republic and Malta.  Further, U.K. PM David Cameron now seeks to introduce a referendum on staying in the EU.

John Keynes once said,

“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.” 

The defunct economist this time around?

Yale Professor and Nobel Laureate James Tobin, who died in 2002.

According to the NY Times, proposed legislation would impose a tax of 0.1% on the value of all stock and bond trades, and of 0.01% on all derivatives trades. That could raise €57 billion  ($74B) annually, or about 0.5% of EU output, if it applied across the bloc.

Fewer than half expect to participate.  Without revenue from the U.K., the amount should be significantly less.  Trading taxes more likely collect €37 billion.


Tobin Taxes will drive investors away and slow Europe’s GDP growth. It risks opening divisions in the EU just as the euro zone looks to cooperate more closely on fiscal, money, and bank policy to build stronger foundations for the euro.

What do you think?  Is this tax a good idea whose time has finally come? Or a bad idea at a bad time for the EU?


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