This project’s goal was to highlight the different meanings of central bank accountability in the EU and the US and, more generally, to illuminate the changing nature of democratic accountability in a global economy.
In response to their critics, central bankers often say that “independence and accountability are two sides of the same coin”. What does this mean in practice? And to what extent do meanings vary across institutional and political contexts? This project envisioned the emergence of transparency and accountability as the normative embodiment of a historically contingent balance of power between central bankers and other actors. It argued that conventional accounts in terms of economic benefits and democratic concerns are insufficient. Beyond the apparent convergence on a new global consensus, the equilibrium point of the balance of power between central bankers and other actors varies considerably across political systems. Even though everyone agrees on the need for “transparency and accountability”, there remain many different ways for central banks to live up to this global ethos. After developing a critique of conventional explanations, this research demonstrated the argument in the cases of the world’s two most important central banks today – the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank.