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The federal design of a central bank in a monetary union: The case of the European system of central banks


  • Sylvester C.W. Eijffinger

    (CentER, Tilburg University, The Netherlands, and CEPR)


In this paper we analyse the ESCB as a federal central bank system. First, the degree of decentralization of the ESCB will be briefly compared with its predecessor, the Deutsche Bundesbank, and its counterweight in the US, the Federal Reserve System. Moreover, the development during the period 1990-99 of the total, economics and research staffing of the ECB and the national central banks in the EU will be investigated and also the staff ratios of the national central banks in 1999. Furthermore, the research activities of the central banks in the European Union over the period 1990-99 will be analysed both in terms of input (economics and research staff) and output (quality-weighted number of articles in scientific journals). The share of economics research staff in total staff of the national central banks varies between 0.02 and 0.17. The ECB has the highest ratio between economists and researchers and other staff. A ranking of research performance based on the quality-weighted number of scientific articles per economics and research employee reveals that the Bank of Finland has the best research performance of European central banks, followed by De Nederlandsche Bank, the Banco de Portugal and the Oesterreichische Nationalbank. There is only a weak relationship between the research performance and the share of research staff. The conclusion 'small is beautiful' also seems to hold for the economics and research departments of the European central banks. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Sylvester C.W. Eijffinger, 2003. "The federal design of a central bank in a monetary union: The case of the European system of central banks," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(4), pages 365-380.
  • Handle: RePEc:ijf:ijfiec:v:8:y:2003:i:4:p:365-380 DOI: 10.1002/ijfe.214

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Angeloni, Ignazio, 1999. "The role of a regional bank in a system of central banks : A comment," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 73-77, December.
    2. Carsten Hefeker, 2003. "Federal Monetary Policy," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 105(4), pages 643-659, December.
    3. Marvin Goodfriend, 2000. "The role of a regional bank in a system of central banks," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Win, pages 7-25.
    4. Eijffinger, Sylvester C. W. & de Haan, Jakob & Koedijk, Kees, 2002. "Small is beautiful: measuring the research input and output of European central banks," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 365-374, June.
    5. M.A. Akhtar & Howard Howe, 1991. "The political and institutional independence of U.S. monetary policy," Research Paper 9110, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    6. Eijffinger, Sylvester & Haan, Jakob de, 2000. "European Monetary and Fiscal Policy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198776161.
    7. Eduard Hochreiter, 2000. "The current role of national central banks in the Eurosystem," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 28(3), pages 300-308, September.
    8. Vaubel, Roland, 1997. "The bureaucratic and partisan behavior of independent central banks: German and international evidence," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 201-224, May.
    9. Ellen E. Meade & Nathan Sheets, 2002. "Regional influences on U.S. monetary policy: some implications for Europe," International Finance Discussion Papers 721, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    Cited by:

    1. Singleton,John, 2010. "Central Banking in the Twentieth Century," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521899093, March.
    2. Angelini, Paolo, 2003. "Small is beautiful but large is not to be belittled: a comment on Eijffinger et al. [Eur. J. Political Economy 18 (2002) 365-374]," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 901-903, November.

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