Assessing the Tobin Tax

The current financial crisis has stirred up an old debate about whether it might make sense to impose a Tobin Tax, either on foreign exchange transactions or on all financial transactions. Originally proposed by Nobel prize winner James Tobin in the early 1970s, a Tobin Tax aims to reduce volatility in the markets by discouraging short term speculation. In addition, several NGOs are campaigning for the tax because it holds the potential to raise significant funds which could be used for international aid, efforts to combat climate change, or the provision of public services in the UK.

However, whether a Tobin Tax makes sense depends on the evidence. Neil McCulloch, a Fellow in the Globalisation Team at the Institute of Development Studies, is currently conducting a comprehensive review of all the economic evidence both for and against a Tobin Tax. This review will examine both theoretically what we might expect the imposition of such a tax might be, and also empirically what the effects have been of other similar taxes around the world. In particular it will explore whether Tobin-like taxes reduce or increase volatility on financial markets, as well as who in practice is likely to end up bearing the burden of such a tax. The study will also review the evidence on whether it would be possible to implement such a tax in practice.

The project aims to produce a draft working paper by February 2011, with a final comprehensive review of the evidence by June 2011.

The Tobin Tax: A Review of the Evidence

In 'The Tobin Tax: A Review of the Evidence' (2011)
McCulloch, M. and Pacillo, G.

The Tobin Tax: A Review of the Evidence

In 'The Tobin Tax: A Review of the Evidence' (2011)
McCulloch, N. and Pacillo, G.

The Tobin Tax - A Review of The Evidence

McCulloch, N. and Pacillo, G.

Is a Financial Transaction Tax a Good Idea? A Review of the Evidence

IDS In Focus Policy Briefing 14.2 (2010)
McCulloch, N. and Pacillo, G.

Tackling Instability in Financial Markets with a Panic Tax

In 'Markets, Basic Services and Poor People' (2010)
Leonard, D.
Project Dates:
December 2009 - June 2011
Project Status:
Research Themes / Programmes:
Economy and Finance