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World Finance and Economic Stability

Selected Essays of James Tobin

James Tobin

Nobel Prize winner James Tobin has made outstanding contributions to modern macroeconomics. In this final collection of his work he examines the economic policies of the United States and its relations with other major economies after 1990. In James Tobin’s view, the welfare of populations depends uniquely on these policies and it is important to be aware of their impact.
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Chapter 8: They are misusing my name

James Tobin


* James Tobin, Nobel Prize winner for economics, is interviewed about the unexpected resurrection of his speculative tax, his troubled relationship with the opponents of globalization and the mistakes of the European Central Bank. Spiegel: Mr Tobin, here you sit, calm and unruffled, on the lake, while the critics of globalization in Europe are practising revolution under your name. Isn’t that enough to tear you away from your garden bench? Tobin: Certainly not. I have nothing in common with practitioners of revolution against ‘globalization’. Spiegel: The protest organization Attac had originally named itself after you; opponents of globalization are rallying for a Tobin tax. Doesn’t it please you that now, 30 years after you proposed a speculation tax on currency transactions, your idea is finally finding supporters? Tobin: I appreciate attention to my proposal, but much of the praise comes from the wrong side. Look, I am an economist and, like most economists, an advocate of free trade. Moreover, I support the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization – everything that these movements are attacking. They’re misusing my name. Spiegel: This movement seeks the introduction of a tax on currency transactions.The objective is to get some control over capital markets and with the additional revenues to strengthen development assistance for the third world. Doesn’t that sound like your proposal? Tobin: I did suggest that revenues from the tax might go into the World Bank. The turnover tax on foreign exchange trading was intended to limit exchange...

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