The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Financial transactions taxes have recently gained attention as a possible means to influence the behavior of financial markets and to reduce destabilizing capital flows. One variation is a tax on all foreign currency conversions, often termed a “Tobin tax.” This paper suggests that these taxes would probably not produce the desired effects and would be difficult to design and implement. It is unclear that the possible advantages in reducing some short-term speculative trading would outweigh the possible disadvantages in impairing the efficiency of financial markets. From an administrative perspective, without a broad international consensus and application, these taxes are likely to be easily avoided.