Friday, 3 January 2014

Box 6 - IMF nuclear option for Euro

Guido Fawkes notes the following in a post on today

"The IMF is searching for a solution for debt laden European states to stop the €uro collapsing. Stop spending more than you tax is considered naive – how will the ruling elites get re-elected if they stop bribing the electorate with their own children’s money? Option 6 in the IMF’s discussion paper on the subject is brutally straight-forward. The final act of financial repression is to steal from everyone who has savings with a 10% wealth tax."
Best of all it is noted that people should be kept totally in the dark about it. The full horror of box 6 is set out below.
Box 6. a One-Off Capital Levy?
The sharp deterioration of the public finances in many countries has revived interest in a “capital levy”— a one-off tax on private wealth—as an exceptional measure to restore debt sustainability.The appeal is that such a tax, if it is implemented before avoidance
is possible and there is a belief that it will never be repeated, does not distort behavior (and may be seen by some as fair). There have been illustrious supporters, including Pigou, Ricardo, Schumpeter, and—until he changed his mind—Keynes. The conditions for success are strong, but also need to be weighed against the risks of the alternatives, which include repudiating public debt or inflating it away (these, in turn, are a particular form of wealth tax—on bondholders—that also falls on nonresidents).

There is a surprisingly large amount of experience to draw on, as such levies were widely adopted in Europe after World War I and in Germany and Japan after World War II. Reviewed in Eichengreen (1990), this experience suggests that more notable than any loss of credibility was a simple failure to achieve debt reduc- tion, largely because the delay in introduction gave space for extensive avoidance and capital flight—in turn spurring inflation.
The tax rates needed to bring down public debt to precrisis levels, moreover, are sizable: reducing debt ratios to end-2007 levels would require (for a sample of 15 euro area countries) a tax rate of about 10 percent on households with positive net wealth.2

As for instance in Bach (2012).
IMF staff calculation using the Eurosystem’s Household Finance and Consumption Survey (Household Finance and Consumption Network, 2013); unweighted average. 
The full IMF report is here -