Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Tobin Tax: Push - Pull Implementation

The introduction of a substantial Government transfer tax on all transactions might prove the most serviceable reform available, with a view to mitigating the predominance of speculation in the United States. 
John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money,  p. 160 

First of all, it should be called the Keynes Tax. But as James Tobin constantly pushed the idea through out his life time it came to be known in his name. The Oracle of Ottawa has provided the earliest reference of the idea. James Tobin first read Keynes book in 1936, and that is where he certainly got the idea. And it would be fitting that the idea of the greatest tax revenue generator of the future should go to it's true originator.

John Maynard Keynes

The main problem with implementing the Keynes tax is very strong resistance from the financial intermediaries. Better known to the average person as the banks. Of course they have darn near infinite resources and very strong lobbies at all levels of government. The very idea of someone else giving them a haircut sends them into total war mode. 

Much to the Oracle of Ottawa's surprise, the Keynes tax has been implemented in Sweden during the 1980's only to be repealed in the early 1990's. The financial institutions started rerouting the trades and flows around the single agent. Therefore it becomes clear that the tax must be pushed onto the financial institutions, and not just at one place, but at several key places all at the same time. At the time of this writing it is being planned by France and Germany together. If Canada and the United States came on board at the same time that would be it. It would get done.

The pull part of the implementation would come from government in the form of moral suasion. As the Keynes tax is introduced by representative governments, it must also in unison drop capital gains tax rates on the banks customers. Then the banks will have to fight the governments and their own customers! It will not be long before they see the light. 

Of course than you have deal with the next objection. What about the tax havens? Well Dear Reader, the thing about most tax havens is that the banking only benefits a very small number of people. And once the residents realize what revenues their respective governments are giving up, each tax haven will fall into line one by one. If worse come to worse they can also be dealt with with extreme prejudice.    

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