Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Two takes on Tobin taxes

Both from the FT whilst I was off. Martin Wolf is not completely opposed, suggesting that it might lead to more considered investment decisions:

…I might now entertain the argument that willingness to invest in costly “due diligence” on what investors are buying may be undermined by the perceived ease of selling. For these reasons, market liquidity no longer seems an unambiguous good. Maybe shifting the structure of incentives towards “buying and holding” might be better.

But Willem Buiter says it would be the wrong way to tackle the problem. Here’s the key bit for me:
“Churning” can be a problem for individual savers. Excessive transaction volumes can be caused by perverse incentive systems that link the remuneration of traders – acting as agents for owners of wealth – to trading volumes. Even here, the right solution is not transaction taxes but regulation restricting the undesirable features of these contracts directly. If excessive pay in the financial sector is a problem, tax pay.

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