13 Nov 2009


I'm shit at economics, and I got an 'N' at A Level, but it was gratifying to hear the Tobin Tax proposed this week, although it swiftly moved to disappointment.

The idea was proposed by James Tobin, a nobel prize-winning economist who thought that there should be a tax on currency speculation (specifically transactions) of around 0.25%. He reckoned that this would help to calm harmful speculation (which serves no purpose other than to enrich a tiny minority at the expense of wrecking financial systems of small and large states). The money raised would be used for poverty relief, or to support international institutions like the UN.

War On Want (a charity I've supported for around a decade) have long since been campaigning for it, and various countries have said they would support it, although often really really quietly. One such radical is Nicolas Sarkozy, although it seems likely that he's leapt on board now that the idea is gaining ground. A johnny-come-lately, or Jean arrive tard.

The disappointment arrived thick and fast once I learned that Gordon Brown wanted to have a Tobin Tax for none other than the noble idea of bailing out banks in the future. It seems a bit wrong to term it a Tobin Tax in those circumstances, and I can't imagine the late James Tobin been dead keen on it either.

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