Thursday, February 14, 2013

Clever Europeans Propose a 0.1% Tax on Financial Transactions

If you are a government in need of money and you don't want to tax your own citizens, what do you do? You tax other countries' citizens. Eleven European countries have proposed just that. Since most financial transactions are intermediated by U.S. and British firms, the continental Europeans - the French and the Germans - decided not to tax beer and cheese, but finance. Should the U.S. tax subtitled movies and long compound words? The tax is popular with the public as many people have lost money in 2008 and are looking for scapegoats. The tax, while it appears small, is huge. A 100 share trade for $100 each would net $10 from both the buyer and the seller. Currently commissions are $6-10, so effectively this would double or triple them and undo 20 years of financial markets liberalization. The tax is so cleverly designed that it would also apply to Citi trading a German bond with JP Morgan in New York. I just hope it does not apply to me trading my junky VW car to CarMax and me buying some Yoplait at the grocery store.

1 comment: