Riots on G7The G20 summit in ever peaceful Toronto has just finished. The undefined group of nations decided not to agree on anything special, so far so good. There was a serious risk at stake for the trading community. Angela Merkel and a few other presidents of countries knocked out of the world cup pitched the idea of a financial transaction tax.

Difficult to understand

Perhaps my experience as a trader shaped my mind in a way which makes it difficult to understand what these people are thinking. It sounds too bizarre to take it seriously. Any friend or family member proposing me a brand new idea on taxing all financial transactions, and spend the benefits on uh.. the fight against global warming and poverty, I would seriously advice to cool it with the beer during the barbecue. Time to flip the burgers, and slow down with with the beer.

Trading is not smoking

To discourage people from drinking beer the alcohol is generally taxed heavily. Just like cigarettes. But there is a world of difference between beer and financial assets. Trading is not a consumption of something bad of harmful, something that should be curbed. Even with the tax people consume beer and cigarettes, while the same people would stop trading futures altogether.

Return of oldskool spreads

Taxing financial trading would be rather efficient in severely reducing the traded volume and reintroducing oldskool spreads. Inefficient and illiquid markets may sound like a walhalla for certain left wing extremists, the Swedish have very disappointing results with experiments like this in the eighties. Trading volume vanished after introducing Financial Transaction Tax between 1984 and 1990 (bonds -85%, futures -98%, options -100%).

Taxing transactions

This Merkel and Sarkozy are seriously in their pitch for Financial Transaction Tax (FTT). This is a kind of mass stupidity which is hard to believe. Several organizations support this FTT, like the Halifax Initiative and clowns for financial reform. The core idea is taxing all transactions against a rate 0,05%. Just spend a minute contemplaining the consequences of such an idea. A future on the AEX would be taxed with 65 euro on a round trip.

APT not involved yet

A coalition of the big four Dutch trading firms (Optiver, IMC, All Options, Flow Traders) gave an interview in the FD this friday. Somehow the united market maker association, the Association of Propietary Traders (APT), wasn’t involved in the matter but let’s hope they are doing some lobby work.

No broad media coverage

This time the threat to the market as a whole didn’t receive much support. But in the future any regulation aimed at the OTC mess elsewhere could wipe out most small market makers who won’t have the pockets to survive a few years of strange regulation. In general other relevant companies (exchanges) didn’t reach mass attention in the press. Worrisome to see this trading meltdown proposal coined without broad media coverage.