Mar 3, 2019

Hawaii senator proposes "Tobin tax" on financial transactions

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The financial transactions tax, or FTT, is also known as a "Tobin tax," after James Tobin, the Nobel laureate who proposed a small tax on currency transactions in 1972. It's a popular way of raising revenue: The UK has had such a tax for decades, and there's a good chance that France's existing tax could be extended to encompass the entire EU.

Driving the news: The tax is also popular on the American left, and this week Brian Schatz, a U.S. Democratic senator from Hawaii, proposed his version of it: a flat 0.1% levy on the sale price of all stocks, bonds and derivatives.

  • FTTs are more effective in larger markets, because those taxes are harder to circumvent. If the U.S. simply signed on to the Franco-German proposal, that would create a global tax capable of funding ambitious global climate-change initiatives.
  • An FTT would reduce high-frequency trading, which is an activity loved by precious few. High-speed algorithmic trading contributes to a key risk in the market — that a "flash crash" could wipe out trillions of dollars of wealth in a matter of seconds.

The bottom line: Schatz's bill is not going to pass with this Senate and this president. But as we enter the 2020 race, expect most Democratic candidates to include an FTT on their list of revenue opportunities.

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The rematch of the century

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The weekend's biggest sporting event is Wilder-Fury II, which despite its name is not an action movie sequel starring Jean-Claude Van Damme but, rather, a boxing match starring arguably the two best heavyweights in the world.

The backdrop: In their first meeting in December 2018, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury put on a memorable show at Staples Center, with Fury surviving a brutal right hand in the 12th round to earn a split-decision draw.

Pro-Trump warrior takes the helm of U.S. intelligence

Richard Grenell in Berlin. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

By picking Ambassador Richard Grenell to be acting director of national intelligence, President Trump has slotted a pro-Trump warrior into the ultimate apolitical role.

What they're saying: James Clapper, the longest-serving DNI (2010-2017), tells Axios it's "very worrisome installing a partisan with no real intelligence experience in this position."

Coronavirus kills 2 Diamond Princess passengers as Israel confirms first case

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. U.S. numbers include Americans extracted from Princess Cruise ship.

Two elderly Diamond Princess passengers have been killed by the novel coronavirus — the first deaths confirmed among the more than 600 infected aboard the cruise ship — as Israel confirmed its first case among evacuees from the ship.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,200 people and infected over 76,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 118 new deaths since Thursday.

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