Robin Hood fortnight in the Financial Times
(Warning: this blog contains lots of links to the paywalled sections of the Financial Times.)
When we launched the Robin Hood Tax campaign in 2010, the one paper we really couldn’t crack, we were surprised to find, was the house mag of the City of London, the Financial Times. It may have been the celebrity heavy launch or the sheer improbability that we would make any sort of progress as zombie neoliberalism struck back after the global financial crisis. But while even the Sun and the Star featured our campaign to make the finance sector pay its fair share of the damage it had wreaked, we couldn’t even get the Pink ‘Un to attack us!
We began to think Chris Giles had been frightened by a man in green hose when he was young…
This last ten days couldn’t have been more different (maybe it’s the general sense of saturnalian anarchy that has resulted from David Cameron having a week off, or maybe it was George Osborne taking the European Commission and 11 EU member states to the European Court over their Robin Hood Tax plans.)
It started with a major piece by Ralph Atkins and Alex Barker, which wasn’t exactly positive, but treated the idea more seriously than for three years of campaigning (that’s a bit harsh, veteran analyst John Plender was very keen on the likely impact of a Robin Hood Tax on industry short-termism). And then the floodgates opened:
- on 22 May, the FT reported that countries implementing the tax were planning to use the financial market infrastructure to collect the tax, and the Chairman of the European Association of Corporate Treasurers claimed on the letters page that the tax would be passed on to customers;
- on 26 May, the European Central Bank was offering to help ‘redesign’ the tax – thanks, ECB, but we think you should concentrate on the day job;
- by 27 May, the finance sector backlash that has seen hundreds of corporate PRs forced to place exactly the same arguments in the media – but under different names – reached the FT, with the clearly unbiased chief executive officer of Allianz Global Investors, Elizabeth Corley, calling for the Robin Hood Tax to be dropped. It was rebutted two days later by David Camroux, Senior Researcher and Associate Professor, Sciences Po, Paris;
- former City Minister Lord Myners joined the letters page debate on 28 May backing the tax; and
- yesterday, long-time campaign supporter Professor Avinash Persaud argued that criticisms of the Robin Hood Tax were inconsistent, disproportionate and irrelevant.
Can there be more to come? Our guess is yes. The Financial Transactions Tax is an idea whose time in the Financial Times has finally come!