IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Is a transactions tax an effective means to stabilize the foreign exchange market?


  • Andrea Terzi

    () (Franklin College Switzerland, Area of Economics and Finance, Lugano (Switzerland) and Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Istituto di Economia e Finanza, Milano (Italy))


The desirability of a transactions tax in the foreign exchange market, or Tobintax, depends on whether the tax deters short-term, destabilizing trade. While supporters claim that the tax would be a deterrent for short-term capital flows, critics contend that the deterrent capability of the tax would be limited. This paper attempts to resolve some lingering questions about the arithmetic of a transactions tax, and concludes that a tax would raise the required return from trade for any time horizon, and thus deter all trades driven by small expected capital gains (i.e., smaller than the square of one plus the tax rate), and not necessarily those driven by a short horizon of the investor. The paper then explores the consequences of this result on the effectiveness of the tax within competing paradigms and concludes that a Tobin tax is not likely to be an effective means to reach the declared objectives.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Terzi, 2003. "Is a transactions tax an effective means to stabilize the foreign exchange market?," BNL Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 56(227), pages 367-385.
  • Handle: RePEc:psl:bnlaqr:2003:43

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eichengreen, Barry & Tobin, James & Wyplosz, Charles, 1995. "Two Cases for Sand in the Wheels of International Finance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(428), pages 162-172, January.
    2. James Tobin, 1978. "A Proposal for International Monetary Reform," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 4(3-4), pages 153-159, Jul/Oct.
    3. Jeffrey Frankel., 1995. "How Well Do Foreign Exchange Markets Function: Might a Tobin Tax Help?," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C95-058, University of California at Berkeley.
    4. S. Illeris & G. Akehurst, 2001. "Introduction," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(1), pages 1-4, January.
    5. Thomas Palley, 1999. "Speculation and Tobin taxes: Why sand in the wheels can increase economic efficiency," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 69(2), pages 113-126, June.
    6. John Grahl, 2003. "Sand in the wheels or spanner in the works? The Tobin tax and global finance," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(4), pages 597-621, July.
    7. Davidson, Paul, 1997. "Are Grains of Sand in the Wheels of International Finance Sufficient to Do the Job When Boulders Are Often Required?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(442), pages 671-686, May.
    8. Kenen, Peter B, 1995. "Capital Controls, the EMS and EMU," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(428), pages 181-192, January.
    9. Rudiger Dornbusch & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1987. "The Flexible Exchange Rate System: Experience and Alternatives," NBER Working Papers 2464, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Gençay, Ramazan & Dacorogna, Michel & Muller, Ulrich A. & Pictet, Olivier & Olsen, Richard, 2001. "An Introduction to High-Frequency Finance," Elsevier Monographs, Elsevier, edition 1, number 9780122796715.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Foreign Exchange;

    JEL classification:

    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • H87 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - International Fiscal Issues; International Public Goods


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:psl:bnlaqr:2003:43. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Carlo D'Ippoliti). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.