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The politics of central bank independence: a theory of pandering and learning in government

  • Gauti B. Eggertsson
  • Eric Le Borgne

We propose a theory to explain why, and under what circumstances, a politician endogenously gives up rent and delegates policy tasks to an independent agency. Applied to monetary policy, this theory (i) formalizes the rationale for delegation highlighted by Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, and by Alan S. Blinder, former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; and (ii) does not rely on the inflation bias that underlies most existing theories of central bank independence. Delegation trades off the cost of having a possibly incompetent technocrat with a long-term job contract against the benefit of having a technocrat who (i) invests more effort into the specialized policy task and (ii) has less incentive to pander to public opinion than a politician. Our key theoretical predictions are broadly consistent with the data.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 205.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:205
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