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Independent and Accountable Central Banks and the European Central Bank

  • Sousa, Pedro A. B. de

This paper begins with the concept of central bank independence and focuses its argument around one of its major drawbacks � the potential absence of accountability by the monetary authority. Then, beyond defining an alternative legal central bank independence index, we analyse the current Statutes of thirty-two central banks, and we quantify their legal independence and accountability degrees. With that data, we confirm previous studies, showing evidence of a de jure negative relationship between central bank independence and democratic accountability, though not as strong as it is usually argued. Still, we remain aware that some very independent central banks are also very low accountable � the European Central Bank (ECB) is a good example. Finally, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a contract à la Walsh between the ECB and a European Community organ, and we ask for a more in-depth analysis and understanding of these subjects, in order to improve the EMU institutional picture.

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Article provided by European Community Studies Association Austria (ECSA-A) in its journal European Integration online Papers (EIoP).

Volume (Year): 5 (2001)
Issue (Month): (07)

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Handle: RePEc:erp:eiopxx:p0069
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  1. Hayo, Bernd, 1998. "Inflation culture, central bank independence and price stability," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 241-263, May.
  2. Miguel A. Savastano & Paul R. Masson & Sunil Sharma, 1997. "The Scope for Inflation Targeting in Developing Countries," IMF Working Papers 97/130, International Monetary Fund.
  3. de Haan, J. & Amtenbrink, F. & Eijffinger, S.C.W., 1998. "Accountability of Central Banks : Aspects and Quantification," Discussion Paper 1998-54, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  4. Robert J. Barro & David B. Gordon, 1983. "Rules, Discretion and Reputation in a Model of Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 1079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Stefania Albanesi & V. V. Chari & Lawrence J. Christiano, 2003. "How severe is the time-inconsistency problem in monetary policy?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 17-33.
  6. Lohmann, Susanne, 1992. "Optimal Commitment in Monetary Policy: Credibility versus Flexibility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 273-86, March.
  7. Sibert, Anne, 1999. "Monetary Policy Committees: Individual and Collective Reputations," CEPR Discussion Papers 2328, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  9. Charles Goodhart & Haizhou Huang, 1995. "What is the Central Banks Game?," FMG Discussion Papers dp222, Financial Markets Group.
  10. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1985. "The Optimal Degree of Commitment to an Intermediate Monetary Target," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1169-89, November.
  11. Avinash Dixit & Henrik Jensen, 2000. "Equilibrium Contracts for the Central Bank of a Monetary Union," CESifo Working Paper Series 400, CESifo Group Munich.
  12. Paul De Grauwe & Hans Dewachter & Yunus Aksoy, 1999. "Effectiveness of Monetary Policy in Euroland," Empirica, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 299-318, December.
  13. Randzio-Plath, Christa, 2000. "A new political culture in the EU - democratic accountability of the ECB," ZEI Working Papers B 04-2000, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
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