Central Banking as a Political Principal-Agent Problem

Posted: 9 Mar 1998

See all articles by Michele U. Fratianni

Michele U. Fratianni

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Business Economics & Public Policy; Universita' Politecnica delle Marche

Jürgen von Hagen

University of Bonn - Institute of Economic Policy; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Christopher J. Waller

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; University of Notre Dame - Department of Economics

Abstract

Due to their ties with elected leaders, central bankers may pursue policies that are not in society's best interests. Consequently, the relationship between the public and the central bank can be characterized as a principal-agent problem. An inflation and a stabilization bias arise as a result of this agency problem and the magnitudes of these biases depend on the political environment. Various institutional proposals for eliminating these biases are examined, and we find that central bank independence and performance contracts work best. However, we argue that central bank independence is preferable for resolving the agency problem.

Keywords: monetary policy, political business cycles, central banking

JEL Classification: E31, E32, E58

Suggested Citation

Fratianni, Michele and von Hagen, Jürgen and Waller, Christopher J., Central Banking as a Political Principal-Agent Problem. Economic Inquiry, Vol. 35, No. 2, pp. 378-393, April 1997. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=61430

Michele Fratianni (Contact Author)

Indiana University - Kelley School of Business - Department of Business Economics & Public Policy ( email )

Bloomington, IN 47405
United States
812-855-3360 (Phone)
812-855-3354 (Fax)

Universita' Politecnica delle Marche ( email )

Piazzale Martelli, 8
60121 Ancona
Italy
39-071-2207120 (Phone)

Jürgen Von Hagen

University of Bonn - Institute of Economic Policy ( email )

Adenauerallee 24
D-53113 Bonn
Germany

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Christopher J. Waller

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

411 Locust St
Saint Louis, MO 63011
United States

University of Notre Dame - Department of Economics ( email )

434 Flanner Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States
574-631-4963 (Phone)
574-631-9238 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.nd.edu/~cwaller/

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