26 Aug 2013

ECB Transaction Figures for 2012

Yesterday, I was suggesting that the ECB could easily finance direct payments to all Eurozone citizens by applying a very modest FTT on all financial transactions within the EU. I suggested that a 0.05% tax on the €1.6 quadrillion of transactions would provide €2500 for every man, woman and child in the Eurozone - thus providing a massive boost to the Eurozone economy.

The €1.6 quadrillion figure is one that I published last year on the basis of the ECB's own figures. However, the figures I used were based on transactions in 2011. So I thought it would be a good idea to try and get some numbers for 2012.

The complete figures are not yet available. In particular, the numbers for Payment Transactions for 2012 are not yet on the ECB website (they were €143.5 trillion in 2011). However, we do already have the values for transactions handled by the TARGET system in 2012. This totalled €634.1 trillion, of which €630.2 trillion was handled by the 17 Eurozone countries. To this we can add a further €57.9 trillion that was handled by the EURO 1 (EBA) system - you can find all the details here.

But the ECB also provides 3 other sets of data that you can find http://www.ecb.europa.eu/stats/payments/payments/html/12_table2.en.html. The first concerns numbers for Comparative Tables on Secrurities Trading Statistics which can be downloaded in pdf form for 2011-12 here. The second concerns "Securties Clearing Statistics" and can be found as a pdf here. Finally, there are numbers for Securities Settlement Statistics" for which the pdf can be downloaded here.

However, to compile the figures in a single sheet, I downloaded the original data as Excel sheets, and generated the following table that gives all three sets of data for every year since 2006. I've ranked each component for the three datasets by turnover so that you can see where the action is.

As you can see, 2012 was not a good year for the traders. Overall transactions were down substantially on 2011's record total of €862.9 trillion. In fact, there was a drop of 13.3% year on year, resulting in a total of only €747.9 trillion. Hard times indeed.

Nevertheless, Eurocelar Bank (Belgium) managed to process an impressive €309 trillion, followed by the €123 trillion that was handled by Euroclear France, €76.1 trillion by Iberclear, and €71.8 trillion processed by Clearstream Banking in Luxembourg.

In fact, it would appear that 2012 really was a tough year at the global level too - not just in the Eurozone. A report from the World Federation of Exchanges said that transaction figures in 2012 were down substantially:
  • Electronic Order Book (EOB) Share Trading was down 22.5% to $49 trillion
  • Cash value of Bond trading was down 20% to $26.1 trillion
  • ETF trading was down 31.6% to $7.3 trillion
  • Securitized Derivatives were down  43.3% to a mere $632 billion
Nevertheless, I still think that the claims that a 0.05% FTT would wipe out all this activity completely are somewhat exaggerated.  I really do think that the ECB can count on around €1.5 quadrillion in transactions within the Eurozone that it could very easily tax.

Just imagine what providing €2500 to every man, woman and child in the Eurozone would do for the economy.


  1. Nevertheless, I still think that the claims that a 0.05% FTT would wipe
    out all this activity completely are somewhat exaggerated

    No! This is the real point. It's not exaggerated

    Think about HFT activity This tax will cut 90% of all transactions

  2. OK. So we wipe out 90% of all HFT activity. Would this cause any problems? Only a few % of trades are actually doing anything useful in the economy. How much of the $5.3 trillion a day in Foreign Exchange is actually necessary? If that was reduced to a mere €533 billion a day, would we notice??

  3. So what would a similar model look like for the USA?