In the clearest indication yet, a high French government official confirmed last week that an FTT — Financial Transaction Tax — will be implemented by the European Union by the end of 2012, a year earlier than planned. Jean Leonetti (left), France’s Minister for European Affairs, said on television that “This is on the program for the next European summit [on January 30]. [French President] Nicolas Sarkozy and [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel have decided on this and it will be put in place before the end of 2012.”

The tax would be levied, initially at least, on every financial transaction taking place by any entity with a connection to the eurozone, at the rate of 0.1 percent on shares of stock and bonds, and 0.01 percent on all derivatives transactions. It is estimated that the FTT would cover about 85 percent of all transactions between financial institutions such as banks, investment firms, insurance companies, pension funds, and hedge funds. It is expected to raise, in the beginning, about $70 billion annually to help fund the EU.

It’s being touted as punishment for the banks which were allegedly instrumental in causing the economic meltdown, but would have no impact on ordinary citizens or small businesses. According to the European Commission, the FTT “would help to reduce competitive distortions in the single market, discourage risky trading activities [such as high frequency trading and highly leveraged derivatives contracts] and complement regulatory measures aimed at avoiding future crises.”

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