Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"there’s a good idea floating around" - and - guess who's coming to dinner? 

Jan. 13, 2009 - Bob Herbert (NYTimes):
Well, there’s a good idea floating around that takes its cue from the legendary Willie Sutton. Why not go where the money is?

The economist Dean Baker is a strong advocate of a financial transactions tax. This would impose a small fee — ranging up to, say, 0.25 percent — on the sale or transfer of stocks, bonds and other financial assets, including the seemingly endless variety of exotic financial instruments that have been in the news so much lately.

According to Mr. Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, the fees would raise a ton of money, perhaps $100 billion or more annually — money that the government sorely needs.

But there’s another intriguing element to the proposal. While the fees would be a trivial expense for what the general public tends to think of as ordinary traders — people investing in stocks, bonds or other assets for some reasonable period of time — they would amount to a much heavier lift for speculators, the folks who bring a manic quality to the markets, who treat it like a casino.

“It raises money in a way that comes primarily at the expense of speculation,” said Mr. Baker. “The fees would be a considerable expense for someone who is buying futures, or a stock, or any asset at 2 o’clock and then selling it at 3. The more you trade, the more you pay.

“For the typical person holding stock, who is planning to hold it for a long period of time, paying the quarter of one percent on a trade is just not that big a deal.”

Sept. 26, 2008 - Thom Hartmann (Air America Radio, Common Dreams.org):
How Wall Street Can Bail Itself Out Without Destroying The Dollar

It's been done before, and has several benefits.

In the United Kingdom, for example, whenever you buy or sell a share of stock (or a credit swap or a derivative, or any other activity of that sort) you pay a small tax on the transaction. We did the same thing here in the US from 1914 to 1966 (and, before that, we did it to finance the Spanish American War and the Civil War).

For us, this Securities Turnover Excise Tax (STET) was a revenue source. For example, if we were to instate a .25 percent STET (tax) on every stock, swap, derivitive, or other trade today, it would produce - in its first year - around $150 billion in revenue. Wall Street would be generating the money to fund its own bailout. (For comparison, as best I can determine, the UK's STET is .25 percent, and Taiwan just dropped theirs from .60 to .30 percent.)

But there are other benefits.

As John Maynard Keynes pointed out in his seminal economics tome, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money in 1936, such a securities transaction tax would have the effect of "mitigating the predominance of speculation over enterprise."

In other words, it would tamp down toxic speculation, while encouraging healthy investment. The reason is pretty straightforward: When there's no cost to trading, there's no cost to gambling. The current system is like going to a casino where the house never takes anything; a gambler's paradise. Without costs to the transaction, people of large means are encourage to speculate - to, for example, buy a million shares of a particular stock over a day or two purely with the goal of driving up the stock's price (because everybody else sees all the buying activity and thinks they should jump onto the bandwagon) so three days down the road they can sell all their stock at a profit and get out before it collapses as the result of their sale. (We ironically call the outcome of this "market volatility.")


Franklin D. Roosevelt, as part of the New Deal, put into place a series of rules to discourage speculation and promote investment, including maintaining - and doubling - the Securities Transaction Excise Tax. Other countries followed our lead, and the UK, France, Japan, Germany, Italy, Greece, Australia, France, China, Chile, Malaysia, India, Austria, and Belgium have all had or have STETs.

Perhaps the most important benefit of immediately re-instituting a STET in the USA, however, isn't that it would raise enough money to bail out the banks and billionaires (and after that crisis is covered, could pay for a national health care system), or that it would encourage investment and calm down markets. Those are all strong benefits, and absent the current Republican Administration bailout proposal would stand-alone strongly.

[Read in full at link above]


OMG! - Barack Obama is forming a secret shadow government with the Four Horses Asses of the Acolumnist: George Will and David Brooks and William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer; somewhere in Chevy Chase Maryland. This can only mean two things: [1] Obama intends to appoint both Sarah Palin and Brit Hume to the Supreme Court, and, [2] he is planning to hand over the Social Security Administration to the National Rifle Association!


corrente SBL - New Location
~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
~ current ~

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]


copyright 2003-2010

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?