Could the Robin Hood Tax see billion-dollar currency trades blighting council estate lift shafts?
No, honestly, some of the attacks on the Robin Hood tax are just getting frantically silly. The Financial Times, who failed to cover the launch of the campaign, and turned down the opportunity to report on a letter from 350 economists who favour the tax (you see, it’s not just Bill Nighy and Richard Curtis and 70-plus national organisations), has finally reported that some people oppose the idea of a financial transactions tax. But suggestions that the multi-billion dollar currency trades will be forced off the City trading floors and into the back streets are surely just a little exaggerated?
But, honestly, that’s what Ian Young, of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, is quoted as saying:
“The worry is it would send the market makers off established markets down alleys and into back streets where the tax won’t apply.”
Presumably he doesn’t really mean that City traders will be found pandering to their depraved habit of rampant and risky speculation in grimy tower block lift shafts, behind the wheelie bins or down by the canal? Presumably he means they might go to Switzerland, which is not quite the same as the back streets of Shoreditch or Wapping.
In reality, it seems unlikely that this would result even if the tax we’re campaigning for isn’t introduced globally/multilaterally. Unilateral transaction taxes don’t necessarily lead to such shifts. That’s why the stamp duty on share dealings in UK companies which has existed at various levels over the last 45 years hasn’t led to million-dollar short selling being done down the pub.