Britain is doing it, France is doing it. Should the US impose a windfall tax on bankers’ bonuses too? Let me set out what I understand to be the case for the prosecution. I invite readers to comment on whether you think it stacks up or not.
1. People on Main Street are furious about Wall Street bonuses.
2. This anger is justified because the bonuses are based in large part on windfall profits. These profits derive from taxpayer-backed interventions that stabilised the financial system, paving the way for a recovery in financial markets and collapse of risk spreads.
3. All banks benefited from this bailout – not just the ones that took or still have Tarp funds. Even the strong gained hugely from Fed liquidity and government actions to ensure none of their weaker counterparties failed (including but by no means limited to the AIG case).