Will the modern global economy's version of Robin Hood help the fight against worldwide poverty? Bill Gates hopes so, and he'll reportedly try to sell the heads of the 20 leading economies on the idea Thursday despite opposition from the United States and Great Britain.
Microsoft's chairman and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation told the Guardian newspaper of London that he'll promote levying a small financial transaction tax on each stock and bond trade, also called an FTT or a Robin Hood tax, in his address to the Group of 20 summit in France.
"It is very plausible that certain kinds of FTTs could work," Gates told the Guardian. "I am lending some credibility to that. This money could be well spent and make a difference. An FTT is more possible now than it was a year ago, but it won't be at rates that magically raise gigantic sums of money."
(At left, watch Bill and Melinda Gates talk about their foundation with CBS' "60 Minutes" in 2010.)
Gates goes into his 75-minute presentation knowing it will be a hard sell for Britain and the United States. The Obama administration prefers to charge fees against big banks, according to The Associated Press. British Prime Minister David Cameron told lawmakers Wednesday that U.K. support would only come if the tax was worldwide, the Guardian reported. (Britain also plans to meet its U.N. commitment by 2013 without the tax.)
But Gates will also have some fans in the crowd, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who commissioned a report Gates will be presenting, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who leads the Anglican church, backed the tax in a Financial Times column Wednesday. Williams wrote that a tax of 0.05 percent tax on each transaction would generate more than $400 billion per year worldwide, according to the AP.