CAN FINANCIAL TRANSACTIONS TAXES REDUCE SPECULATION AND RISKY FINANCIAL ACTIVITY?

In recent years there has been an explosion in high frequency trading - transactions that happen every few seconds. There has also been a huge increase in derivatives, making the volume of financial transactions increase to more than 70 times the size of the world economy.  Many serious commentators believe this volume is dangerously large and de-stabilising, and that many of these transactions are, in the words of Lord Turner, former chair of the Financial Services Authority, ‘socially useless’. 

Many of the most speculative, risky and socially useless transactions are based on very small profit margins, meaning that even at a very low rate such as 0.05%, an FTT would shrink the size of the market by reducing the profitability of the most risky transactions. Many economists support the FTT for this reason.

At the Robin Hood Tax campaign we are principally supportive of an FTT because of the money it will raise to help the poor. However, if it also acts to reduce risky gambling and make the world economy safer that can only be a good thing.