(Just published: DNB Working Paper 539 – The politics of central bank independence – Jakob de Haan en Sylvester Eijffinger)
This paper reviews recent research on the political economy of monetary policy-making, both by economists and political scientists. The traditional argument for central bank independence (CBI) is based on the desire to counter inflationary biases. However, studies in political science on the determinants of central bank independence suggest that governments may choose to delegate monetary policy in order to detach it from political debates and power struggles. This argument would be especially valid in countries with coalition governments, federal structures and strongly polarized political systems.
The recent financial crisis has changed the role of central banks as evidenced by the large set of new unconventional monetary and macro-prudential policy measures. But financial stability and unconventional monetary policies have much stronger distributional consequences than conventional monetary policies and this has potential implications for central bank independence. It may also have changed the regime from monetary dominance to fiscal dominance. However, our results do not suggest that CBI has been reduced since the Great Financial Crisis. This holds both for legal measures of CBI and the turnover rate of central bank governors.