Some people have been campaigning for a global financial transactions tax for most of my life. For years they seemed to be in the wilderness, but now their time may have come. As one commentator said – it’s now such a realistic option, its opponents feel they have to speak up. Some of the people who will eventually make the decisions are hedging their bets a bit.
The latest developments include Gordon Brown and Nikolas Sarkozy’s joint article in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Newsnight’s coverage that night, followed by the reports of the EU Council of Ministers on Friday. The EU statement was far less ambiguous than Brown and Sarkozy’s article, or the Treasury document issued on Thursday (which the TUC welcomed) urging the IMF to follow up the commitments made at the November G20 Finance Ministers meeting to consider various options, including a Financial Transactions Tax.
There is a real need to ensure that the IMF carries out a serious study into whether and how an FTT would work rather than just explaining why it wouldn’t work. Part of that is ensuring an open approach. Recently, the IMF has agreed to a civil society proposal (backed by the TUC and the International Trade Union Confederation, as well as the Belgian TUC and several UK union) to engage with civil society over the study.