Two years ago, we launched Radix with our first paper focused on the Bank of England’s quantitative easing programme.
The core questions we raised in that paper were these: What should be the limits of central bank independence? How reasonable is it, in a democracy, that unelected and minimally politically accountable central banks should have powers to make interventions with substantial social consequences?
At that time, this question was not the subject of any significant public debate. Even at our launch event, most of the people on our panel were wary of questioning central bank independence in any way.
We were delighted that the subject subsequently gained some traction in spite of resistance from the Bank of England. For a while, we followed that debate as it evolved. We participated in press discussion – here, here, and here.
Now we have a new book from Sir Paul Tucker, former deputy governor of the Bank of England, which addresses this question head on. While Sir Paul’s main focus is central banks, he broadens the question to the power of all agencies in what he calls the regulatory state.
The book, Unelected Power: The Quest for Legitimacy in Central Banking and the Regulatory State, is a through and detailed work. It must be a welcome addition to a debate that is fundamental to our conception of what a democracy should look like, where power should lie and how we balance decision making that necessarily needs to be technically sound with public accountability.
The book only arrived on my Kindle today so I have merely browsed through it. But there is a 45 minute podcast on the FT that those who do not wish to struggle through the whole book may want to listen to. More comment once I get through the book.
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