In his 1972 Janeway Lectures at Princeton, James Tobin, the 1981 Nobel Prize winner for economics, submitted a proposal for a levy on international currency transactions. The idea was not greeted with enthusiasm, as the 1970s were a period of optimism and confidence in floating exchange rages. Yet, whenever currency crises erupted during the past decades, the proposal for a levy on international currency transactions would once again arise. In the 1990s, two additional facts have sharpened interest in the Tobin tax proposal. First is the growing volume of foreign exchange trading. Second, interest is coming not only from policymakers and experts concerned with the smooth functioning of financial markets. It is shared by those concerned with public financing of development--the fiscal crisis of the state as well as the growing need for international cooperation on problems such as the environment, poverty, peace and security.
This work makes a systematic analysis of the proposal for a foreign exchangetransactions levy. Its chapters examine the economic desirability of such a levy, its technical and political feasibility, its revenue potential, the possible uses of that revenue, and related administrative and institutional aspects.