Nicolas Sarkozy Joins AFL-CIO In Demanding Tobin Tax For All Financial Institutions
According to the BBC, the issue of the Tobin Tax, which as we reported previously, had garnered some vocal proponents recently, but was never expected to be anything than mere discussion points, has gotten a firm G-20 supporter in the face of French president Nicolas Sasrkozy. And while the opposition of the US is a certainty, the recent overtures by FSA Chairman Adair Turner in which he announced he would consider a Tobin tax implementation, means the US could be all alone in its disapproval of this form of taxation.
Recently many talking heads have come out and discussed how much of an adverse impact a Tobin Tax would have on the US economy, yet the simple fact is that the majority of retail investors already pay substantial transaction fees to their brokers and would not notice a theoretical 0.1% transaction tax increase in fees. Furthermore, brokerages which are now enjoying record speculative mania, could easily lower their fees to compesnate for any new trade taxation. This leaves only big institutions, and specifically those that traffic in either HFT, churning, painting the tape, or all three, as adversely impacted by a tax. Yet it is these very same entities that are benefitting from a record steep yield curve: an ongoing boon compliments of the US taxpayer. In essence: when firms get a gift from the Federal Reserve, they will take it no questions asked, yet when there is even the slightest hint of a proposition introduced that could take away even some of these profits generated courtesy of taxing the general population, which is what QE is, everyone screams bloody murder.
One (and by one, one, of course, means Goldman Sachs and other HFT titans) can only hope that the AFL-CIO and US democrats do not get much more involved in this issue. As we reported previously, the Tobin tax issue could quickly turn ugly as instead of a purely economic issue, it would start having political overtones. It is a well known feature of government that it will sniff out any segment of the economy that is abnormally profitable, and quickly seek to tax this excess profitability out of it - if you throw in the ethical considerations against HFT, and the purported strong opposition of the US against Tobin Tax could quickly dissolve.
From the BBC:
The move is aimed at cutting excessively speculative trades and encouraging long-term decision-making.
But senior EU officials told the BBC that the chances of getting a global agreement were "less than minimal".
proposal does not yet have the formal backing of the EU or Germany -
France's largest trading partner - and according to the BBC's business
reporter Joe Lynam, it is widely expected to face resistance from
Britain and the US, home to the world's largest financial centres.
Yet here is why the work of HFT operators will likely continue unimpeded (until such time as we have yet another market crash, likely exacerbated by these same players):
According to our correspondent, the notion of a Tobin Tax is likely
to be referred by the G20 to the Financial Stability Forum - the club
of the world's top central bankers and financial regulators - to assess
and translate into a workable set of rules to which all countries might
be able to agree.
But its proponents face a tough battle.
in Brussels last Thursday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown voiced
doubts about whether a worldwide tax was practical.
"If one or
two countries refuse to adopt a common levy or action or taxation, then
it makes it very difficult to implement," he said.
are under supervision in one set of countries, but not under
supervision in other countries, then it makes it easy for people to
avoid the action that even is agreed by most of the countries in the