Eleven European countries have agreed to levy taxes on financial transactions (a 0.1% tax on securities trades and a .01% tax on derivatives trades). The goal is to rake in some badly needed revenue and to discourage financial speculation.
Felix Salmon thinks the so-called "Robin Hood tax" will deliver on the revenues, but won't stop speculation:
I doubt that speculators will find this tax particularly off-putting. Europe doesn’t suffer from the high-frequency trading that has overtaken the U.S. stock market, and these taxes are low enough that any remotely sensible financial transaction will remain sensible on a post-tax basis. It’s possible that total trading volume might decline a little bit in some markets, and that would be fine: no one thinks it’s too low at the moment, and in the derivatives markets especially, increase in volumes generally just translates into increased rents being paid to big sell-side banks. But I’m not someone who believes that speculators are causing a noticeable amount of harm in European markets: as far as they’re concerned, the financial transactions tax is likely to make very little difference to a group of people who are not much of a problem in the first place.Salmon also doubts the tax will do much harm to the European financial industry, as it's lower than London's more expensive "Stamp Duty" on financial transactions -- a duty which hasn't harmed the City's standing as a leading financial hub.