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A General Financial Transaction Tax: A Short Cut of the Pros, the Cons and a Proposal

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  • Stephan Schulmeister

Abstract

The idea of introducing a general financial transaction tax (FTT) has recently attracted rising attention. There are three reasons for this interest: First, the economic crisis was deepened by the instability of stock prices, exchange rates and commodity prices. This instability might be dampened by such a tax. Second, as a consequence of the crisis, the need for fiscal consolidation has tremendously increased. A FTT would provide governments with substantial revenues. Third, the dampening effects of a FTT on the real economy would be much smaller as compared to other tax measures like increasing the VAT. The paper summarises at first the six main arguments in favour and against a FTT. It then provides empirical evidence about the movements of the most important asset prices. These observations suggest that a small FTT (between 0.1 and 0.01 percent) would mitigate price volatility not only over the short run but also over the long run. At the same time, a FTT would yield substantial revenues. For Europe, revenues would amount to 1.6 percent of GDP at a tax rate of 0.05 percent (transaction volume is assumed to decline by roughly 65 percent at this rate). In the UK, tax receipts would be highest. Even if only transactions on exchanges are taxed in a first step (at a rate of 0.05 percent), a FTT would yield 3.6 percent of GDP in the UK. In Germany, FTT receipts would amount to 0.9 percent of GDP in this case. If a FTT is introduced in the UK and in Germany at the same time, neither country needs to fear a significant "emigration" of trading. This can be presumed because roughly 97 percent of all transactions on exchanges in the EU are carried out in these two countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephan Schulmeister, 2009. "A General Financial Transaction Tax: A Short Cut of the Pros, the Cons and a Proposal," WIFO Working Papers 344, WIFO.
  • Handle: RePEc:wfo:wpaper:y:2009:i:344
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    File URL: https://www.wifo.ac.at/wwa/pubid/37001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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. Harry Huizinga, 2002. "A European VAT on financial services?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 17(35), pages 497-534, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bowen, Alex, 2011. "Raising finance to support developing country action: some economic considerations," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 37572, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. David Stubbs, 2012. "Adopting a Currency Transaction Tax When Avoidance is a Possibility: Which Currencies Would Take the Lead and What Rate Could they Charge?," Working Papers 1204, New School for Social Research, Department of Economics.
    3. Zsolt Darvas & Jakob Weizsäcker, 2011. "Financial transaction tax: Small is beautiful," Society and Economy, Akadémiai Kiadó, Hungary, vol. 33(3), pages 449-473, December.
    4. Peter Nunnenkamp & Rainer Thiele, 2013. "Financing for Development: The Gap between Words and Deeds since Monterrey," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 31(1), pages 75-98, January.
    5. Carlos Contreras & Mónica Contreras, 2015. "Estimación de la recaudación del Impuesto sobre Transacciones Financieras: el caso español," Hacienda Pública Española / Review of Public Economics, IEF, vol. 213(2), pages 109-143, June.
    6. Edward Sun & Timm Kruse & Min-Teh Yu, 2015. "Financial Transaction Tax: Policy Analytics Based on Optimal Trading," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 46(1), pages 103-141, June.
    7. Bruno Jetin, 2012. "The Tobin tax," Post-Print halshs-02020052, HAL.
    8. Ben Beachy, 2012. "A Financial Crisis Manual Causes, Consequences, and Lessons of the Financial Crisis," GDAE Working Papers 12-06, GDAE, Tufts University.
    9. Alex Bowen, 2011. "Raising climate finance to support developing country action: some economic considerations," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(3), pages 1020-1036, May.
    10. Zsolt Darvas & Jakob Weizsäcker, 2011. "Financial transaction tax: Small is beautiful," Society and Economy, Akadémiai Kiadó, Hungary, vol. 33(3), pages 449-473, December.

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    Keywords

    Boom and bust of asset prices; speculation; technical trading; transaction tax;

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