Monday, January 24, 2011

Sarko Embraces the Tobin Tax

Once an idea associated with the "radical crazies" of antimondialisme, the Tobin tax (on financial transactions) has now been embraced by Nicolas Sarkozy, whose election was supposed to have signified the triumph of globalization and neoliberalism in France. Politics works in mysterious ways (les crises du capitalisme aidant):

À propos de la taxe sur les transactions financières, il s'agit, selon lui, de la "meilleure des formules" pour trouver "de nouvelles ressources pour le développement", même s'il a admis qu'elle avait à cette heure de "grands ennemis". "La France considère que cette taxe est morale compte tenu de la crise financière que nous venons de traverser, utile pour dissuader la spéculation et efficace pour trouver de nouvelles ressources pour le développement", a dit Nicolas Sarkozy en présentant ses voeux à la presse.
I've always been a fan of the Tobin tax and was sorry to see its virtues compromised by association with a lot of less savory ideas floated by various social movements. It remains to be seen just how Sarkozy, as head of the G20, will propose that it be implemented. It is sure to be resisted tooth and nail by American and British banking interests. Opposition from French banks will inevitably be more discreet. In the early days of the crisis, one heard bold talk of Paris's ambitions to replace London as a global financial center. Such talk is rare these days, particularly since the French government placed itself, rhetorically at least, on the side of regulation and taxation. But the devil is in the details.


bernard said...

Tobin himself, I'm given to understand, was rather sad of having his name associated with the tax advocated by the altermondialistes, which was rather different from the tax he had proposed in quite different circumstances.

Jane O'Brien said...

There's also increasing support for a Tobin Tax to be introduced in Ireland, but no-one can agree on the issue or why it should be implemented.