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Post Keynesian Econometrics, Microeconomics and the Theory of the Firm

Beyond Keynes, Volume One

Edited by Shelia C. Dow and John Hillard

This is the first of two volumes celebrating Keynes’s contribution to economics, and the development of post Keynesian economics in recent years. It reinstates the importance of Keynesian economics and its revival since the end of the 1980s, and the book’s authoritative chapters are presented by an outstanding group of international contributors.
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Chapter 13: An evaluation of the Tobin transactions tax

Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer


Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer I INTRODUCTION There has been considerable interest in the idea of a tax levied on foreign exchange dealings, first suggested by James Tobin in his 1972 Janeway lecture at Princeton (Tobin, 1974; see also 1978). Some official interest in a transactions tax has been expressed by United Nations Development Programme (1994) and UNCTAD (1995) who have seen its possibilities for raising large amounts of money which could be used to finance development. The purpose of this chapter is to evaluate the proposals for a tax on foreign exchange dealings. We assume that levying such a tax on a national basis would not be feasible and do not discuss that possibility further. We also assume that the tax would be levied on any transaction which involved the exchange of a financial asset denominated in one currency for a financial asset denominated in another currency (cf. Tobin, 1978: 159; Akyüz and Cornford, 1995: 190). II RATIONALES FOR A TRANSACTIONS TAX Three rather different (but not mutually exclusive) sets of reasoning have been advanced in support of a transactions tax (which we will use as shorthand for a tax on foreign exchange dealings). The first is that there is a sense in which the volume of foreign exchange transactions is excessive, being many times greater than the volume required to finance trade. The most widely cited figures on turnover on the foreign exchange markets are summarized in Table 13.1. World trade for 1995 was a...

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