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Entries tagged "robin hood tax"Page Previous 1 • 2 • 3 • 4
November 4, 2011 · By Sarah Anderson
Talk about piling on. Bill Gates, the Pope, Michael Moore, the Archbishop of Canterbury, 1,000 parliamentarians, 1,000 economists, the world's major labor leaders, Occupy Wall Street protesters, Oxfam and other major development groups, thousands of nurses, the World Wildlife Fund and other major enviros…It might be easier to list who didn't come out didn't come out in support of a Wall Street tax in the lead-up to this week's G20 summit in Cannes.
The outcome? No home run, but some measurable steps forward.
No one expected a G20-wide agreement on taxing financial transactions at this summit. Despite rising support, opposition from the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, among others, is still just too strong. But there were high hopes that a subset of European and non-European G20 countries would launch a "coalition of the willing" in support of the tax.
This goal was achieved. In his concluding press conference, summit host French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that South Africa, Brazil, and Argentina were joining the list of current supporters, including France, Germany, Spain, the European Commission, and several other European governments. Sarkozy said he hopes to move towards implementation in early 2012.
Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have been the strongest supporters of taxing financial transactions for nearly two years. A few months ago, the European Commission also reversed its earlier opposition and released proposed legislation for such a tax in the European Union. But while Europe appears likely to move forward, the addition of several emerging market countries to the supporter list is significant for several reasons:
- The increased revenue that can be generated.
- The reduced potential for tax avoidance.
- The enhanced chances that revenue won't just be plowed into European bank bailouts, but instead spent on human needs in both the global North and South.
- The strengthened legitimacy through the backing of rising powers in the Global South.
For U.S. advocates, there was another modest victory. Over the past two years, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has made no secret of his aversion to the tax. In September, Geithner angered some of his European counterparts by objecting to proposals to raise funds to address their deficit problems through an EU-wide tax on financial transactions.
In Cannes, the Obama position shifted from active blocking to friendly neutrality.
"The president made clear that he shares the objectives that Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy have in ensuring that the financial sector contributes an appropriate share to the resolution of crises," said Michael Froman, the White House's G20 point person. "I think there is broad consensus between the Europeans that the president met with this morning and ourselves about the ability of each to pursue this in their own way, whatever way they see to be most effective."
The final communiqué of the G20 leaders was a disappointment, however.
The only relevant line in it is a typical diplomatic non-statement: "We acknowledge the initiatives in some of our countries to tax the financial sector for various purposes including a financial transaction tax inter alia to support development."
But with the likelihood of a critical mass of countries coordinating taxes on financial speculation, this kind of mumbo jumbo may disappear in the coming years. Once other governments start generating massive revenues by taxing speculation, even the most closed-minded economic advisers in this country may see the issue anew.
Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the .
November 4, 2011 · By Janet Redman
In December 2008, in the eleventh hour of two weeks of intense negotiations over the future of a global climate deal, negotiators sat exhausted and exasperated as the team from the United States moved to block a temporary agreement. Visibly frustrated, the lead negotiator for Papua New Guinea growled at the US, “If you can't lead then get out of the way.” The room exploded in applause, and the US backed down.
Flash forward three years and the United States, now under what was supposed to be a progressive administration, is standing in the way of other countries’ progress again. This time a coalition of the willing in Europe – led by French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German chancellor Angela Merkel – are laying plans to put a tiny tax on financial speculation by big banks and financiers who treat the global economy like their own personal casino.
A financial speculation tax (a.k.a. FST, Robin Hood tax or financial transaction tax) could raise serious money – on the order of $400 billion per year, and groups that are worried about the impacts of climate change think that this is one of the best proposals out there for generating some of the money developing countries desperately need to adapt to a warming world and to build low-carbon economies.
The Obama administration – and in particular Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner – has staunchly opposed taxing the Wall Street casino at home. But in a serious overreach of power, they’ve threatened to stop any mention of France and Germany’s proposal for the tiny tax in the G-20 Summit underway in Cannes, France.
In response, major US organizations including Oxfam America, Greenpeace USA, 350.org, and Church World Service States sent President Obama and key members of his administration a letter urging the US to, once again, step out of the way of internatinal progress.
Here's the full text of the letter, and the list of endorsing organizations:
Dear Mr. President,
We write to urge you to signal support for European countries’ proposal for the G20 summit in November 2011 to endorse countries’ use of a financial transaction tax. It is dismaying that, according to recent reports, your administration has repeatedly objected to European efforts to put such a tax in place, even for themselves. We believe this obstructionism is deeply misguided. A negligible levy on the financial sector has shown great potential to address growing inequities in the financial system, and to help prevent financial crises in the future.
A small tax on the trading of stocks, currencies, derivatives and other financial assets has the power to raise hundreds of billions of dollars a year while discouraging dangerous financial gambling and rapid, high-volume speculative trading. Funds raised by the tax should be used to strengthen broad-based economic prosperity and human security by creating green jobs, improving livelihoods and global health, and following through on critical climate change finance commitments to developing countries.
The idea of a small fee on the sale of financial transactions is not new. Such taxes have a long track record in many of the world’s leading economies. The United States, for example, had a transfer tax from 1914 to 1966, which levied a 0.20 percent tax on all sales or transfers of stock. In 1932, Congress more than doubled the tax to help financial recovery and job creation during the Great Depression.
Today the idea is supported by many G20 leaders, including French President Sarkozy and German Chancellor Merkel, and innovative sources of finance remain high on President Sarkozy’s list of priorities for the G20 Summit. The European Commission recently published legislation for a European financial transactions tax. Bill Gates will formally present a report on development finance at the G20 in which he is expected to identify a financial transaction tax as one of the most credible and feasible sources of innovative finance. The IMF has also published papers noting the feasibility of such a tax.
But, Mr. President, while momentum builds in Europe your administration continues to block progress. We were deeply disappointed when reports from last month’s meeting of European Finance Ministers revealed that Secretary Geithner repeatedly discouraged European countries from moving forward with a financial transaction tax – even amongst a “coalition of the willing.”
Public anger is growing over Wall Street bailouts, record corporate executive excess and broken promises to build a clean economy. The “Occupy” movement is proof of that anger. You have an opportunity to stem this frustration by bringing a message of encouragement for a European financial transaction tax to the G20 Summit.
We, the undersigned organizations, call on your Administration to take a bold stand against Wall Street greed and negligence and stand for accountability and economic justice by supporting European leaders’ action on a financial transaction tax at the G20 in Cannes.
Affording Hope Project
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Community, Democracy and Ecology
Center for Participatory Research and Development
Center of Concern
Chesapeake Climate Action Network
Church World Service
Foreign Policy in Focus
Friends of the Earth U.S.
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
Holy Cross International Justice Office
International Forum on Globalization
Jubilee USA Network
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Movement Generation: Justice & Ecology Project
Oil Change International
Pan Africa Climate Justice Alliance
Sustainable Energy & Economy Network, Institute for Policy Studies
Tax Justice Network USA
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
Women's Environment and Development Organization
cc: Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, Department of the Treasury; Michael Froman, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs
November 3, 2011 · By Sarah Anderson
The world's second-richest man and a group of American nurses on the frontlines of the Occupy Wall Street protests came to the G20 summit in Cannes, France this week to advocate for the same thing.
Bill Gates came because French President Nicolas Sarkozy asked him to give G20 leaders recommendations on how to raise funds to meet the needs of the world's poorest. Among Gates's proposals: a small tax on trades of stocks, derivatives, and other financial instruments, also known as a financial transactions tax (FTT), Wall Street speculation tax, or the Robin Hood tax.
According to an advance copy of Gates's report, "FTTs already exist in many countries, where they generate significant revenue, so they are clearly technically feasible. According to the IMF, 15 G20 countries have some form of securities transaction tax. In the seven countries where the IMF estimates revenue, these taxes raise an estimated $15 billion per year."
"It is very plausible that certain kinds of FTTs could work," Gates told the Guardian. "I am lending some credibility to that. This money could be well spent and make a difference."
Gates has a net worth of $59 billion. So forget the 1 percent, he'd be in what, the top 0.001 percent? Meanwhile, representatives of the 99 percent were outside the summit security zone, plugging the same idea.
National Nurses United, the largest union representing U.S. nurses, came to France from the Occupy Wall Street protests across the United States where they have been providing first aid for the encampments. In Cannes, they dressed in their scrubs and joined nurses from Australia, France, Ireland, and Korea. This global group then administered an FTT saline drip to an ailing world economy — represented by a man painted in full body art as the Earth.
"The economic decline is literally making our patients sick," said one of the U.S. nurses. "We see more and more children with conditions related to poor nutrition and stress." The solution, according to the nurses, is a Wall Street tax that could generate the revenues needed to address human needs.
Bill Nighy, an actor famous for his roles in "Love, Actually" and other British films, jumped right into the world economy's hospital bed and posed for photos. "People around the world are dying of illnesses that should have been eliminated hundreds of years ago," Nighy said, noting that a new Wall Street tax could help raise the money required to stop those scourges.
One of his contributions to the campaign for such a tax in the UK was a video that went viral, in which he plays a banker trying to argue against the idea. Ultimately, his character can't find a good reason why not to raise huge amounts of money for the things people need through a tiny tax on financial transactions.
Back inside the summit venue, there's a frenzy of last-minute lobbying going on to try to line up a group of G20 governments to launch a “coalition of the willing on FTT.” The Obama administration isn't expected to be on the list.
But RoseAnn DeMoro, National Nurses United's executive director, said, “Nurses don’t give up on people and they won’t give up on this.” The union also spearheaded a rally in Washington, DC today, with more than a thousand nurses and their allies targeting opponents of the Wall Street tax in the Treasury Department and Congress.
Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the .
June 22, 2011 · By Sarah Anderson and Marlee Blasenheim
Nurses from across the United States rallied on Wall Street today, calling on the financial industry to pay their fair share of the costs of the economic crisis.
Coming from the frontlines of the suffering, the nurses had some gut-wrenching stories to tell. Sandy Falwell, who has worked in an intensive care neonatal unit for 20-plus years, told one of the most painful: After a woman gave birth to a 2-pound baby, the woman told Falwell that she blamed herself for her baby’s premature birth. During her pregnancy she had been unable to afford insulin treatments for her diabetes — in part because she was taking care of her elderly parents.
How does the nurses union that spearheaded the rally propose to raise the funds necessary to cover the costs of such urgent needs? National Nurses United Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro explained: “There’s a financial transaction fee that we’re going to have Wall Street pay. They have paid it here in the past. It’s very American. These yo-yos who buy and sell and buy and sell our country should have to pay a tax on that.”
The way such taxes work is they place a small fee on each trade of stocks, derivatives, foreign exchange, and other financial instruments, with the goal of raising massive revenues while also discouraging reckless speculation.
As DeMoro mentioned, the United States had a transactions tax from 1914 to 1966, which levied a 0.20 percent tax on all sales or transfers of stock. In 1932, Congress more than doubled the tax to help financial recovery and job creation during the Great Depression.
The Wall Street rally was part of a global day of action on financial transactions taxes involving more than 35 countries. The actions were timed for the eve of a meeting of leaders of European Union nations, where the debate over such taxes is much further along than in the United States. There are high hopes that Europe will implement them in the near future, which would give a big boost to U.S. advocates.
Here are a few highlights from other countries, where many of the campaigns have taken on a “Robin Hood” theme:
- In Berlin, Robin Hoods rolled giant Euro coins down the street to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s residence, where someone who looked an awful lot like her (except with a head four times as large as a normal human) received the money as she prepared to depart for the European Council meeting.
- In Lebanon, the League of Independent Activists did a direct action on the Central Bank, opening a banner in English and Arabic that states: "Big Day for a Tiny Tax," before delivering a statement to government officials.
- In Brussels, activists met the Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, who assured them that his government will support a Europe-wide transaction tax.
- In Nepal, activists met their Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister and delivered a lobby letter before taking their message to different historical sites in Kathmandu.
- In Norway, a casino/stock exchange installation was set up alongside a “Robin Hood forest” in the center of Oslo.
- In New Zealand, activists with 350.org and Oxfam did an action at a shopping mall, resulting in this not-to-be-missed short video of a break-dancing Robin Hood.
For more on these actions and continued coverage of the global day of action, click here.
Karen Higgins, a co-president of National Nurses United, told the crowd on Wall Street, “Around the world, we’re calling for a more fair and just economy. The finance tax we’re talking about comes from the trillions of trade of stocks and bonds sold here every day. The revenue is badly needed in our communities.”
The nurses union was joined on the street by a long list of other unions and organizations, including the Amalgamated Transit Union, Vocal NY, AFSCME, UNITE HERE Local 100, Community Voices Heard, Transport Workers Union Local 100, United Steam Workers, and PSC-CUNY.
A big theme of the day was that the New York rally was just the beginning of what they're hoping to be a growing movement. Minnesota nurse Jean Ross, clearly angered by the role of the financial industry in creating the current crisis, said, “Wall Street should be happy that we’re just talking about a financial transaction tax. We could be talking about restitution.”
February 18, 2011 · By Sarah Anderson
Forget Russell Crowe. Global campaigners for financial transactions taxes have done way more to bring back Robin Hood's spirit of equity.
Activists in 25 countries, many of them sporting green tights and feathered caps, carried out coordinated actions this week to increase pressure on governments to adopt small levies on trades of stock, currency, and other financial instruments as a way to curb speculation while raising hundreds of billions of dollars in newfound revenue for urgent needs.
Images from these actions have been mapped out to illustrate the global breadth of this campaign, from Nepal to Mexico in the global South and from Canada to Japan in the North.
- In Germany, a merry band of Robin Hoods and Maid Marians blended in with celebrities at the Berlinale film festival, arriving in a white limousine with their own red carpet.
- In London, pensioners, public sector workers, students, and unemployed people affected by the UK government's spending cuts joined campaigners dressed as Robin Hood to hand a giant "final demand" notice into a number of banks.
- In Washington, activists drummed up support for the Investing in our Future Act of 2011, a just-introduced bill by Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) that would tax currency trades to raise money for U.S. deficit reduction and climate and global health programs.
IPS joined a wide range of environmental, labor, faith and other groups in a letter to President Obama endorsing the bill and staged a photo-op in front of the White House. They also visited the French embassy, where charge d'affaires Francois Rivasseau expressed appreciation for the efforts by global civil society to "make noise" in support of financial transactions taxes. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is the current head of the G-20 and has vowed to push for action on this issue within that group of the largest economies.
The Global Day of Action for Financial Transactions Taxes coincided with the G-20 finance ministers meeting this week in Paris. While G-20 consensus in support of financial transactions taxes would be ideal, much more likely is a "coalition of the willing approach" in which France, Germany, and other countries agree to lead the way.
Once they begin generating significant revenue, the Obama administration may wonder why they're missing out.