>> See the September 2015 ESBG statement
Updated: January 2019
Eight ESBG members support the aim to curb short-term speculation and to encourage the prohibition of undesirable market behaviour. However, they do not support a Financial Transaction Tax at EU-level. The impact on financial activities essential to the functioning of financial markets and to the real economy could be extremely negative. We believe that the following activities will be affected negatively by the proposed tax:
The issuance and secondary markets for sovereign bonds
The use of derivatives contract for hedging purposes
The use of repurchase agreements to provide secured liquidity to the market
The use of intra-group transactions for liquidity management and efficient capital allocation within a group.
ESBG's main concern with the current EU FTT proposal is that – in efficient fixed income markets such as the markets for government and covered bonds, which are characterised by low spreads between bid and offer prices – the tax will be far higher than what can be earned on market-making, especially on instruments with short remaining time to maturity.
The consequence of the tax will be that market-making will almost cease and current liquid markets are likely to be transformed into buy and hold markets. As a result, market liquidity will disappear or be significantly reduced.
A Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) builds on the work of famous Nobel laureate James Tobin. An FTT is in theory applied to a financial transaction in a similar way to how VAT is applied to goods and services but due to the very narrow margins and the international character of finance the FTT, if incorrectly implemented, may have a severe distortive impact on the economy as a whole.
In September 2011 the European Commission proposed a FTT to be implemented in all EU member states but unanimity was not reached within the Council. Nonetheless, in autumn 2012, 11 member states (Belgium, Germany, Estonia, France, Greece, Spain, Italy, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia and Slovakia) requested and were permitted to continue the work on an FTT using the enhanced cooperation mechanism. After talks in December 2015, Estonia withdrew from the group of countries that requested enhanced cooperation, reducing the number of participating countries to 10, raising questions about the viability of the FTT.