I had missed this from earlier in the week. Eliot Spitzer ,with a very logical answer as to what could be done to help rein in Wall Street:
There are so many benefits to imposing [the stock transfer] tax. One, it generates a lot of revenue that we need for a jobs program, education, all the other things. Two, it would stop some of the high-speed trading that serves no good public purpose. Computer-driven trading, which is — according to some estimates — half to two-thirds of the volume, it’s all Goldman trading to Bank of America, buying it back. It does nothing for society, and yet, it is what is driving the market and the volatility, hurting the real investors like you and me or hundreds of thousands — millions of others. Taxing that would be good for the market on top of everything else.
This seems a no-brainer solution, and it has been for some time. A transaction tax on stock trades would help discourage churn-based speculation, and would discourage the large investment firms from doing these computerized megatrades to squeeze a few tenths of a penny from this stock or another before passing the stocks on to their own customers. That sort of trading (or more accurately in most cases, gambling) has no underlying value to the companies being traded. It certainly does not do anything for individual invstors, either. Opponents of such a tax carp that it would hinder market "efficiency", but efficiency at what, exactly?
There should be a certain underlying friction to trading stocks (or commodities, for that matter.) Stock volatility can hurt companies greatly, and often for reasons that have little to do with the company itself. Would an ever-so-slight new impetus to hold stocks slightly longer, rather than churn them, be such a bad thing?
Part of the reason the financial sector has so taken control of our economy is that they have been very, very good at squeezing all players in the market in order to come up with new revenues for themselves. The market has become rather more inefficient at its prime duty, which is the allocation of capital, because more and more "capital" is being siphoned off from investors and traded companies alike in order to support an increasingly gilded speculator class.
Small things, like a tax that would impact only large-scale speculators, could be very good for the market as a whole. It would meet stiff opposition from the large banks, which make monstrous sums of money from these practices. Frankly, we shouldn't care.
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