Distributive Justice, Political Legitimacy, and Independent Central Banks

Res Publica:1-18 (forthcoming)
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The Global Financial Crisis of 2007–2009 exacerbated two distinct concerns about the independence of central banks: a concern about legitimacy and a concern about economic justice. This paper explores the legitimacy of independent central banks from the perspective of these two concerns, by presenting two distinct models of central banking and their different claims to political legitimacy and distributive justice. I argue primarily that we should avoid construing central bank independence in binary terms, such that central banks either are, or are not, independent. I will argue that we should instead construe central bank independence in scalar terms, so that independence admits of degree, thus allowing us to develop an account of independence in which central banks can retain it to the extent necessary for economic efficiency, while meeting reasonable concerns regarding democratic legitimacy and economic justice.

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Josep Ferret Mas
Universitat Pompeu Fabra


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