Monday, 15 March 2010

Robin Hood Tax - A Good thing?

It is also clear that such taxes could raise significant additional revenues of the order of $200bn - $400bn with minimal impact on the real economy or retail consumers.  The tax will have a highly progressive final incidence that falls mainly on the top income earners and wealth holders in society.  Report on Robin Hood Web site
When I first heard about the Robin Hood tax I was suspicious.  It sounds such a good idea and recently the Archbishop of Canterbury has written in support of it.  However, my concern was that if you raise that amount of money it has to come from somewhere - and the people it comes from aren't going to like it!  I decided to do a little research and found that the report from which the first quote came also contained:
The world’s top 1000 commercial banks have reported profits of between $700 billion and close to $1 trillion in recent years with the exception of last year when the financial crisis cut deep into these profits
So what is being proposed is to reduce banking profits by half - and we think that the banks aren't going to do anything about it?  And I'm not the only one to have thought of this: Ed West in the Telegraph and Church Mouse have raised similar concerns.

My other concern is that the motivation for this seems wrong to me.  Bankers are making so much money that most of us just gasp and someone suggests lets take some of it off them...  Well why not take some off Premiership footballers, or film stars, or business leaders?  There is a second issue behind this which to my mind may well have more merit, but seems to be getting less attention, and that is the impact that it might have in reducing the number of high turnover trades taking place in the financial markets.

Yesterday at Diocesan Synod we had a presentation on Giving for Life - the CofEs new stewardship approach.  This is rooted in a generous response to God's generosity to us, rather than, as have previous approaches, the fact that we are skint!  What is the motivation behind the Robin Hood Tax?

If it would be a good idea to reduce the short term trading in city institutions then let us debate that rather than implementing it on the back of an emotive marketing campaign about what we could do with the money raised, without looking too closely at the other impacts that it will have.  I have searched the web and failed to find anything looking at this - it is probably there - but doesn't seem to be very prominent in the current campaign.

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