Turner: going behind the headlines

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Much will be made of Lord Turner’s comments, made yesterday, that the City had grown "beyond a reasonable size", accounting for too much of British output and taking away too many of the country’s brightest graduates whilst undertaking "socially useless activity".

Perhaps as important though in the context of his job as head of the Financial Services Authority, former deputy at the Bank of England and former CBI director general is this:

In a statement that reversed a decade of policy at the regulator, he also said it was no longer one of his primary aims to promote the status of London as a global financial centre.

"The really fundamental question is whether the overall level of financial services pay is a consequence of the swollen financial sector which has resulted from over-simplistic financial deregulation. This is not a question that any of the politicians have focused on but I think it’s an important and legitimate issue of public concern," he said.

Now he had a role in promoting that over simplistic regulation, but let’s not dwell too much on that for now. the messages are clear I think: regulation needs to improve, regulation needs to curtail harmful activity; financial services activity can be harmful; taxes that promote financial services activity are by implication harmful and  therefore tax and regulatory reform to curtail this abuse are required.

So let’s start with the tax items I noted earlier today and then move on to the  list the Task Force on Financial Integrity and Economic Development asked for yesterday:

  • Beneficial Ownership Agree that the beneficial ownership, control, and accounts of companies, trusts, and foundations must be readily available on public records, and set a date for achievement of this goal.

  • Automatic Exchange of Information Agree that automatic exchange of tax information is the end toward which tax information exchange agreements should be directed, and set a date for achievement of this goal.

  • Trade Pricing Agree that pricing of imports and exports of goods and services by all trading parties should conform to considerably strengthened transfer pricing guidelines, and set a date for achievement of this goal.

  • Country-by-Country Reporting Agree that multinational corporations and financial institutions should report sales, profits, and taxes paid in all jurisdictions where they are established or active, and set a date for achievement of this goal.

  • Anti-Money Laundering Agree that predicate offenses for money laundering charges should be harmonized at the most restrictive level and codified, and set a date for achievement of this goal.

They’ll all help.

And all are deliverable.