Archive for the ‘financial market bailout’ Category

Taxing the London Whale

Now that a once-obscure J.P. Morgan Chase derivatives trader named Bruno Iksil has become infamous as the London Whale, I suppose it is time to ask whether what he does should be subject to new taxes. The question predated Mr. Iksil’s misadventures, of course. Ever since the U.S. financial crash of 2008 and the beginnings of […]

How Blurry is the Line between Monetary and Fiscal Policy?

Economists have traditionally drawn a sharp distinction between monetary and fiscal policy. Monetary policy should try to promote growth and limit inflation by setting short-term interest rates, managing the money supply, and providing liquidity during times of financial stress. Fiscal policy should also encourage growth and, more broadly, promote the general welfare through careful choices about spending, taxes, and borrowing. The Federal Reserve has responsibility for monetary policy, while Congress and the President handle fiscal policy.

Taxing Bank Risk

Washington is buzzing with talk about taxing banks. And after watching the Goldman Sachs masters of the universe testify on Capitol Hill a couple of weeks ago, it is no surprise that many want to tax these people until they bleed.
Unfortunately, punitive taxes are a bad idea, no matter how good they make us feel. But could a well-designed levy drive financial firms to allocate capital more efficiently? Maybe so, says Narayana Kocherlakota, the new president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

Bank Bonus Taxes are a Bad Idea

The UK recently instituted a 50% tax on bankers' bonuses and France is reportedly about to follow suit. German chancellor, Angela Merkel, is said to like the idea, but would prefer to institute a tax on financial transactions. Even economist Paul Krugman said that, at first blush, the bonus tax “looks entirely reasonable.” Sure, it might drive the best and the brightest out of the finance business, but that would be a good thing.

Now that I’ve got your attention

I was quoted in the New York Times yesterday, which is kind of fun. Many of my friends read the Times, and it’s a great way to make new friends, and enemies.

Taxing AIG Bonuses: Worse Than Paying Them.

The AIG bonuses are an outrage. But the bigger scandal is that a grandstanding Congress wants to use the tax law to punish the companies that paid them and the employees that got them.
If Congress wants to limit bonuses for employees of bailed-out companies, it should just do it. But using the Internal Revenue Code is a truly terrible idea. And dipping into the Code to win political points is worse. Long ago, people were rightly outraged when Richard Nixon tried to turn the IRS into a weapon to punish his enemies. This gotcha tax is another variation on the theme, and nearly as inexcusable. Imagine, for instance, if a GOP Congress retroactively barred people from deducting charitable gifts to Planned Parenthood. Or Democrats imposed a 50 percent surtax on companies that that do security work in Iraq.