Time for a Tobin Tax on Financial Transactions

computer screen

High frequency trading increases volatility in stock markets and mean that only those with access to high-powered computers can compete. This is not good for long-term thinking and means that what a company actually does is irrelevant to the stock performance – contradictory to claims about how the market ought to work. Enter the concept of a Tobin tax. In the US, the Congressional Budget Office proposed that such a tax can make a massive and positive difference for the government and society at large.

So how much would this tax on Wall Street raise? Even accounting for certain other revenues that would go down as a result, The CBO says that “This option would increase revenues by $777 billion from 2019 through 2028.”

In other words, you could raise nearly $80 billion a year over the next decade with a small tax that is well-targeted to the investor class, and which would have the salutary effect of discouraging a practice that already serves to rob the public. To give just one example for context, you could fund virtually the entire federal food stamp program with this financial transactions tax.

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Now is the Time to Sell Stocks in Fossil Fuels

Most everyone knows that fossil fuel energy is on its way out and renewable energy usage is accelerating. This means that air quality will improve and energy will become cheaper, all good things. Yet, there’s a large group of companies that don’t see the obvious. Enter the divestment campaign. Divestment campaigns have been around for years and are showing great strides in getting shareholders to take their money from world-destroying industries and put that money into other, friendly, industries.

This year divestment initiatives doubled to $5.2tn! That’s a lot of money leaving oil companies.

The new report, produced by Arabella investment advisors for the DivestInvestcoalition, collated public pledges to sell off some or all fossil fuel investments and added up the overall investments managed by those institutions. The total was double the $2.6tn reported by the last analysis in September 2015.

It is often difficult to calculate the precise proportion of fossil fuel investments in complex funds, but about $400bn of the $5.2tn total is likely to be in coal, oil and gas. Asset managers controlling $1.3tn – a quarter of the total – have also committed to increasing their investments in clean energy to accelerate a transition to the low-carbon economy.

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Thanks to Delaney!

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