Krugman joins chorus for Tobin tax

Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman has advocated for a Tobin tax. The Austrian government estimates that the tax could raise £420bn a year.

Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman has added his name to the list of Tobin tax advocates. The Austrian government estimates that the tax could raise $700bn (£420bn) a year.

Writing last week in the New York Times, Krugman directly addressed critics of the proposal:

“On the claim that financial transactions can’t be taxed: modern trading is a highly centralized affair … while traders are all over the place, a majority of their transactions are settled — i.e., payment is made — at a single London-based institution. This centralization keeps the cost of transactions low, which is what makes the huge volume of wheeling and dealing possible. It also, however, makes these transactions relatively easy to identify and tax.

“What about the claim that a financial transactions tax doesn’t address the real problem? It’s true that a transactions tax wouldn’t have stopped lenders from making bad loans, or gullible investors from buying toxic waste backed by those loans. But bad investments aren’t the whole story of the crisis. What turned those bad investments into catastrophe was the financial system’s excessive reliance on short-term money …

“And a financial transactions tax, by discouraging reliance on ultra-short-run financing, would have made such a run much less likely. So contrary to what the skeptics say, such a tax would have helped prevent the current crisis — and could help us avoid a future replay.”

The US remains a strong sceptic of the proposals so campaigners are urging the rest of the world to go it alone. John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want, wrote recently:

“Such opposition must not be allowed to block further progress towards the introduction of Tobin-style taxes, especially since it has long been established that such taxes can be applied unilaterally rather than waiting for all states to move together.”

Meanwhile a report published last week by Compass, ‘In Place of Cuts’, urges a domestic financial transaction tax  of 0.1 per cent on all payments in bank accounts. It is estimated that this could generate £4.2 billion.

9 Responses to “Krugman joins chorus for Tobin tax”

  1. nef

    RT @leftfootfwd Paul Krugman joins chorus calling for a #TobinTax on financial transactions //bit.ly/6y0bTp

  2. Howard Silverman

    RT @theneweconomics: RT @leftfootfwd Paul Krugman joins chorus for a #TobinTax //bit.ly/6y0bTp

  3. Germana Canzi

    RT @theneweconomics: RT @leftfootfwd Paul Krugman joins chorus calling for a #TobinTax on financial transactions //bit.ly/6y0bTp

  4. Anon E Mouse

    I think this kind of redefines the word “Chorus” but good story none the less.

    When one actually stops to consider that the UK borrowed £11.4bn in October, 2009 and that this country will run a budget deficit equal to 13.2pc of GDP next year – the biggest fiscal shortfall of any major economy in the world and the biggest in our peacetime history.

    Then with the Government borrowing £200bn annually for at least the next three years leading to the UK’s national debt ballooning from 44pc of GDP to more than 100pc by 2014.

    With these sobering facts to consider, even the piddling £4.2 billion Compass thinks it would raise would be a start – especially since the report Will takes this from states they (Compass) would like to reintroduce the 10p tax band which I support fully. Good stuff….

  5. Ben Cooper

    RT @leftfootfwd: Krugman joins chorus calling for a Tobin tax on financial transactions //bit.ly/6y0bTp

  6. Tim Worstall

    Please do get it right. It’s not an Austrian Government report.

    They are a private sector think tank.

    Am I the only person in this country who actually went and asked them the question?

    Apparently so, for that is what they told me, that they are, and I quote directly

    “WIFO is – as you would say in English – a privat sector think tank with a focus on empirical economic research.

    The board of WIFO consits of representatives of the chamber of commerce, workers chamber, chamber of agriculture, trade unions, the federation of industries, bankers association, the national bank, a university and a research institute, the provincial governments, and the ministry of finance:

    The institutions listed above (apart from the univiversities and other research institutes) are providing funds for public good services provided by WIFO. WIFO is therefore partly funded by the Austrian government but not exclusively. A considerable share of our revenues is earned by contract research with a wide range of clients.”

    Then you might try actually reading the report to see the assumptions they make. Highly dubious ones. Like, for example, the idea that we could raise £100 billion here in the UK alone. Seriously? We can get more tax out of the City than their entire contribution to GDP?

    It is to laugh.

  7. Chris

    Never going to happen.

    Even in your socialist utopia surely you cannot envisage every country in the world agreeing a punitive tax on finance.

  8. The LDV Friday Five (ish): 4/12/09

    […] of opening) signal the end of high street booksellers?” – submitted by stephenftall. 5. Krugman joins chorus for Tobin tax | Left Foot Forward “‘Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman has added his name to […]

Leave a Reply