August 11, 2016

Why a tax on Wall Street transactionjs would work

Robert Reich - One of Bernie Sanders’s most important proposals didn’t receive enough attention and should become a law even without a president Sanders. Hillary Clinton should adopt it for her campaign.

It’s a tax on financial transactions.

Putting a small tax on financial transactions would:

1. Reduce incentives for high-speed trading, insider deal making and short-term financial betting. Buying and selling stocks and bonds in order to beat others who are buying stocks and bonds is a giant zero sum game. It wastes countless resources, uses up the talents of some of the nation’s best and brightest and subjects financial markets to unnecessary risk.

2. Generate lots of revenue. Even a one tenth of 1% transaction tax would raise $185 billion over 10 years according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. It could thereby finance public investments that enlarge the economic pie rather than merely rearranging its slices—investments like better schools and access to college.

3. It’s fair. After all, Americans pay sales taxes on all sorts of goods and services, yet Wall Street traders pay no sales tax on the stocks and bonds they buy, which helps explain why the financial industry generates about 30% of America’s corporate profits, but pays only about 18% of corporate taxes.

Wall Street’s objections are baloney.

Wall Street says even a small transaction tax on financial transactions would drive trading overseas since financial trades can easily be done elsewhere.

Baloney. The U.K. has had a tax on stock trades for decades, yet remains one of the world’s financial powerhouses. Incidentally, that tax raises about 3 billion pounds yearly. That’s the equivalent of $30 billion in an economy the size of the United States, which is a big help for Britain’s budget. At least 28 other countries also have such a tax and the European Union is well on the way to implementing one.

Wall Street also claims that the tax would burden small investors such as as retirees, business owners and average savers.

Wrong again. The tax wouldn’t be a burden if it reduces the volume and frequency of trading, which is the whole point. In fact, the tax is highly progressive. The Tax Policy Center estimates that 75% of it would be paid by the richest fifth of taxpayers and 40% by the top 1%.


Anonymous said...

Reich has sacrificed a lot of his credibility by aggressively supporting Hillary Clinton.. Be that as it may, he's correct about the Financial Transactions Tax. He should just stop with the 1/10th of one percent thing.. why not 10%? and let the states Tax this stuff too.

Then too he needs to be honest about why Wall Street opposes the idea. Sure they are greedy! but it's not the Tax itself they find totally unacceptable, it's the accounting and opening of their books to outside auditors and Tax inspectors! They don't want that kind of bright light in their closets.

I'm pretty sure this hasn't escaped his notice.


Tom Puckett said...

This is a good and equitable proposal. Thanks for posting more info on the basic idea that Sanders outlined.

Everyone should Tweet this piece! Use this URL:

Cheers, Tom

greg gerritt said...

I suport the tax, but since we are essentially at the end of economic growth for reasons beyond the fianncial screw ups of Wall st, dio not expect this tax to create economic growth. Reich is still stuck on stupid in the stone age.