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An Interest-Group Theory of Central Bank Independence

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  • Miller, Geoffrey P

Abstract

This article presents an interest-group theory of central bank independence. In the absence of an independent central bank, politicians can benefit in the short run by creating an unanticipated burst of inflation that unravels many interest-group deals. Interest groups then have to return to the politicians to renegotiate the deals, and the politician can extract a portion of the rents as a price for renegotiation. However, while politicians can benefit from creating unanticipated inflation, they benefit even more by credibly precommitting not to inflate the currency ex post. If they do not inflate the currency ex post, they can obtain more in payments for their services ex ante because the interest groups that are paying for the deal will not discount their upfront compensation by the risk that the deal will lack durability owing to future inflation. The independent central bank provides a mechanism for reliably precommitting not to engage in inflationary actions designed to extract future rents. Copyright 1998 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Miller, Geoffrey P, 1998. "An Interest-Group Theory of Central Bank Independence," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 433-453, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:27:y:1998:i:2:p:433-53
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/468026
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    Cited by:

    1. Masciandaro, Donato & Romelli, Davide, 2015. "Ups and downs of central bank independence from the Great Inflation to the Great Recession: theory, institutions and empirics," Financial History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(03), pages 259-289, December.
    2. Donato Masciandaro & Davide Romelli, 2015. "Ups and Downs. Central Bank Independence from the Great Inflation to the Great Recession: Theory, Institutions and Empirics," BAFFI CAREFIN Working Papers 1503, BAFFI CAREFIN, Centre for Applied Research on International Markets Banking Finance and Regulation, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.
    3. Marc Quintyn, 2009. "Independent agencies: more than a cheap copy of independent central banks?," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 267-295, September.
    4. Giovanni Di Bartolomeo & Debora Di Gioacchino, 2005. "Fiscal-Monetary Policy Coordination And Debt Management: A Two Stage Dynamic Analysis," Macroeconomics 0504024, EconWPA.
    5. Tim Vlandas, 2016. "The impact of the elderly on inflation rates in developed countries," LEQS – LSE 'Europe in Question' Discussion Paper Series 107, European Institute, LSE.
    6. Debora Di Gioacchino & Sergio Ginebri & Laura Sabani, 2004. "Political support for anti-inflationary monetary policy," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(2), pages 187-200.

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