Prospect’s exclusive roundtable interview with Adair Turner, in which the FSA chief called for the introduction of a Tobin tax and described the finance sector as having “grown beyond a reasonable size,” has continued to spark vociferous debate in the British media and across the globe, from the US to France, Singapore to Indonesia.
Over the coming days Prospect’s website and blog will feature a number of responses to the interview from Times editor-at-large Anatole Kaletsky, UBS senior economic adviser George Magnus and economics commentator Tim Congdon. And Robert Kuttner, editor of the American Prospect, will offer an insight into the implications of Turner’s comments in the US: might such a tax be a viable revenue raiser, given the historic deficit the Obama administration now faces?
As well as gracing the front covers of most of yesterday’s newspapers, the story was also featured on BBC News, Channel 4 news and Sky, while LSE professor Paul Woolley, who took part in the roundtable, was interviewed on CNBC, Radio 5 Live, 9 o’clock news, BBC News 24, and BBC World at 10. And in the US, both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times ran the story, while Turner made headlines in Le Monde, Le Figaro and La Tribune in France, and Die Korrespondendten in Germany. The story also made waves throught Asia, featuring in newspapers in Indonesia, Singapore and Bangkok.
Turner’s comments have been met with both enthusiasm and anger. The Guardian’s editorial praised Turner’s call for a Tobin tax as coming “straight from the open mind of a genuine intellectual,” and said that “the shake-up of ideas is only just getting going, as Lord Turner has admirably shown.” BBC Newsnight economics editor Paul Mason hailed Turner for having “done something unthinkable, and almost unsayable for a member of Britain’s financial elite” by calling into question the size of the City.
But not everyone was so receptive. Hamish McRae commented in the Independent, “I cannot see a German public official saying that he would be happy if the country had a much smaller car industry or an American one being comfortable with the country losing market share in aircraft manufacturing,” while in the Evening Standard Boris Johnson described anyone who undermined the competitiveness of the City as “crackers.”
Perhaps predictably, the most fierce criticism of Turner has come from the City itself, with Howard Wheeldon of BGC partners saying: “I am appalled, disgusted, ashamed and hugely embarrassed that I should have lived to see someone supposed to be held in high esteem and that who already commands a senior and crucially important position as effective head of the UK regulatory regime making such damaging and damning remarks.”
So are Turner’s ideas visionary or foolish? Keep following this story on Prospect’s website and blog and, as ever, weigh in with your own comments here.