Oxfam's head of policy and advocacy Max Lawson, writing in the Grauniad, decries the resistance to a financial transactions tax (FTT aka Robin Hood tax) and offers his thoughts on why the UK should sign up to it:
More prosaically, the likely design of the European tax means it will be paid by City institutions despite the UK's refusal to sign up. The tax will apply to any transactions on shares, bonds and derivatives where one of the parties to the transaction is based in a country where the tax is introduced.My roommate is going to be manicuring her toenails with a chainsaw. The resulting pieces of keratin, flesh and bone will spray across the room and decorate my clothes. This, according to Oxfam, is a good reason for me adopting the same approach to personal hygiene. An interesting argument, and not one totally without merit - oh, sorry, an extraneous "not" there.
Max doesn't really improve his argument as the article proceeds:
In an age when austerity is failing to bring the public finances under control it is hard to imagine a more spectacular own goal than imperfectly protecting City fat cats at vast expense to the public purse.OK, so who would be impacted by implementing the FTT within the UK? The Congressional Budget Office seems to think that most of the incidence falls on average investors. Anyone who buys and sells shares, directly or indirectly (for instance, anyone with a private pension) will find their costs rise sharply. I realise this may not be a concern for those with a Civil Service pension, but the remaining tens of millions of the UK population with private pensions may not take so sanguine a view. Anyone with a UK bank account would see their already nugatory interest wiped out as the nightly inter-bank transactions were priced out of existence.
Even if the UK Government were stupid enough to implement this tax (and it wouldn't be), the US and Canadian Governments would happily bin any attempt to implement it, instead welcoming any international business which decided that headquartering or trading within the EU had suddenly become more expensive. Tax income would therefore take a steep dive, and the current advantage held by the UK for international listings (due to the semi-demented Sarbannes-Oxley act in the USA) would evaporate like urine on a hot radiator.
I suspect that the prospect of fairy gold billions from the FTT has blinded Oxfam to the actual real and severe problems with the FTT. No prospective Chancellor is going to go for this idea, given the near-immediate impact it would have on corporate tax income:
Can you imagine the Labour party going into the next election vowing to remain outside a European Robin Hood tax that has elsewhere reined in the markets and raised billions to kickstart economic progress?If Ed Balls were stupid enough to promise this, and I can't see this happening, I can see Labour being wiped out at the next general election as Government income takes a sharp step downwards and the Chancellor is faced with the unpalatable alternatives of deficit spending (and further damage to the UK credit rating and rising interest payments) or spending cuts. I don't think Oxfam's £12mm income from the Government would last long in such an environment.
So where does Max Lawson get his economic expertise?
Max has worked for Oxfam GB since 2002, firstly in policy support to country programmes, and then in advocacy and campaigns. As part of his country support he has visited and worked with over 25 country programmes across the world. He has experience in organisational development, tax, structural adjustment, aid quantity and quality, macro-economics, governance, agriculture policy, social protection, HIV and AIDS, health, education and water.So he knows a little about a lot. The Internet, and his numerous biographical snippets, are silent about what he studied at the University of Sussex beyond being an "MA student". I note that he "studied at" but nowhere did they say "graduated from"...