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

  • Andrea Terzi

    ()

    (Franklin College Switzerland)

The desirability of a transactions tax in the foreign exchange market, or Tobin tax, 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.

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Paper provided by University of Bergamo, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers (-2012) with number 0303.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:brg:wpaper:0303
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  1. Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1996. "How Well do Foreign Exchange Markets Function: Might a Tobin Tax Help?," NBER Working Papers 5422, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. S. Illeris & G. Akehurst, 2001. "Introduction," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(1), pages 1-4, January.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 671-86, May.
  6. Barry Eichengreen, James Tobin, and Charles Wyplosz., 1994. "Two Cases for Sand in the Wheels of International Finance," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C94-045, University of California at Berkeley.
  7. Kenen, Peter B, 1995. "Capital Controls, the EMS and EMU," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(428), pages 181-92, January.
  8. 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.
  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.
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