This paper argues that securities transaction taxes "throw sand" not in the wheels, but into the engine of financial markets where the transformation of latent demands into realized transactions takes place. The paper considers the impact of transaction taxes on financial markets in the context of four questions. How important is trading? What causes price volatility? How are prices formed? How valuable is the volume of transactions? The paper concludes that transaction taxes or such equivalents as capital controls can have negative effects on price discovery, volatility, and liquidity and lead to a reduction in the informational efficiency of markets.
The paper documents institutional reforms that have taken place in the government debt markets of many industrial countries since the early 1980s, and investigates the impact of three key changes: (i) the move from relationship financing to market funding; (ii) the introduction of options; and (iii) the introduction of futures. Variance ratio tests on bond data for 14 industrial countries indicate that the move to market funding increased the volatility of bond yields and improved the informational efficiency of the secondary markets. The introduction of options and futures increased the informational efficiency of the underlying market, but did not have a stabilizing effect.