Skip to content

Anna Sophie Elektra Zech

GEM-DIAMOND doctoral fellow

ESR 2 – The capitalism-democracy nexus and struggles over European governance

Fascinated by the political economy of monetary policy, I am curious to research the ECB's engagement with public discourse across Eurozone member states. #textasdata

Host Institutions

Central Bank Independence and Eurozone Governance: How does the ECB interact with member state publics?

Supervisors

  • Antoine Vauchez
  • Amandine Crespy

Research abstract

The ECB has increasingly stretched its mandate in the face of conflicting pressures arising from its responsibility to maintain both price and financial stability. Alongside the lack of a full-blown fiscal counterpart at EU level that can provide macroeconomic stabilisation, this context has encouraged monetary policy innovation. The latter, particularly when impacting sovereign debt markets, brings about recurrent political struggles and increasingly complicates the ECB’s independence.

While the government-central bank nexus has been analysed extensively in this regard, growing politicisation following the sovereign debt crisis warrants attention being drawn to the ECB’s interaction with respective member state publics. This project seeks to better understand to what extent and with whom the ECB engages strategically in this realm as it seeks to justify innovation in light of diverse national veto points.

To this end, the project seeks to assess media framing via quantitative text analysis and conduct interviews to analyse interactions with expert bodies such as NCBs that play a significant role in broader national political discourse. Discourse has long played a fundamental role in monetary policy, notably in the case of the ECB given its vague mandate, and is a reliable data source as “talk is not cheap”. To reflect the dynamic interaction of public narratives and institutional evolution, the methodological framework of discursive institutionalism is adopted (Schmidt, 2008). Four country cases are selected in line with a most-different case research design: France and Germany, as the leaders of competing camps at the inception of the ECB, and Italy and Austria, as the leaders of the currently competing camps of “debtor” and “creditor” states.

The findings of this project can shed new light on the state of eurozone governance and contributes to a broader literature on “emergency politics” that often feature prominent intervention by technocratic and/or executive actors (White, 2015).

Shared bibliography

Baker, A. (2018) Macroprudential regimes and the politics of social purpose, Review of International Political Economy, 25 (3), 293–316.

Bellamy, R. & Weale, A. (2015) Political legitimacy and European monetary union: contracts, constitutionalism and the normative logic of two-level games. Journal of European Public Policy, 22 (2), 257-274.

Best, J. (2019) The Inflation Game: Targets, Practices and the Social Production of Monetary Credibility, New Political Economy, 24 (5), 623-640.

Boin, A., ‘t Hart, P. & McConnell, A. (2008) Crisis Exploitation: Political and Policy Impacts on Framing Contests, Journal of European Public Policy, 16 (1), 81-106.

Braun, B. (2014) Why Models Matter: The Making and Unmaking of Governability in Macroeconomic Discourse, Journal of Critical Globalisation Studies, 7, 48-79.

Braun, B. (2016) ‘Speaking to the People?’ Money, Trust, and Central Bank Legitimacy in the Age of Quantitative Easing, Review of International Political Economy, 23, 1064–1092.

Braun, B. & Hübner, M. (2017) Fiscal Fault, Financial Fix? Capital Markets Union and the Quest for Macroeconomic Stabilisation in EMU. MPIfG Discussion Paper 17/21.

Braun, B., Gabor, D. & Hübner, M. (2018) Governing through financial markets: Towards a critical political economy of Capital Markets Union. Competition & Change, 22 (2), 101-116.

Braun, B. (2020) Central Banking and the Infrastructural Power of Finance: The Case of ECB Support for Repo and Securitization Markets, Socio-Economic Review, 18, 395–418.

Bressanelli, E., Koop, C. and Reh, C. (2020) EU Actors under Pressure: Politicisation and Depoliticisation as Strategic Responses, Journal of European Public Policy, 27, 329–341.

Culpepper, P. (2008) The politics of common knowledge: ideas and institutional change, International Organization, 62 (1), 1–33.

De Boer, N. and van ’t Klooster, J. (2020) The ECB, the Courts and the Issue of Democratic Legitimacy after Weiss, Common Market Law Review, 57, 1689–1724.

Diessner, S. & Lisi, G. (2020) Masters of the ‘masters of the universe’? Monetary, fiscal and financial dominance in the Eurozone, Socio-Economic Review, 18 (2), 315-335.

Downey, L. (2021) Delegation in Democracy: A Temporal Analysis, Journal of Political Philosophy, 29, 305–329.

Dyson, K. & Featherstone, K. (1996) Italy and EMU as a ‘Vincolo Esterno’: Empowering the Technocrats, Transforming the State, South European Society and Politics, 1 (2), 272-299.

Elgie, R. (2002) The politics of the European Central Bank: principal-agent theory and the democratic deficit, Journal of European Public Policy, 9 (2), 186-200.

Fontan, C. & Howarth, D. (2020) The European Central Bank and the German Constitutional Court: Police Patrols and Fire Alarms, Politics and Governance, 9 (2), 241-251.

Gabor, D. & Ban, C. (2016) The political economy of shadow banking, Review of International Political Economy, 23 (6), 901-914.

Gabor, D. (2016) The (impossible) repo trinity: the political economy of repo markets, Review of International Political Economy, 23 (6), 967-1000.

Gabor, D. (2020) Critical macro-finance: a theoretical lens, Finance and Society, 6 (1), 45–55.

Gabor, D. (2021) Revolution without Revolutionaries: Interrogating the New Politics of Monetary Financing, Policy Brief, Berlin, Finanzwende and Heinrich Boell Stiftung.

Gabor, D. and Ban, C. (2016) Banking on Bonds: The New Links between States and Markets, Journal of Common Market Studies, 54, 617–635.

Genschel, P., & Jachtenfuchs, M. (2016) More integration, less federation: the European integration of core state powers, Journal of European Public Policy, 23 (1), 42-59.

Genschel, P. & Tesche, T. (2020) Supranational agents as de-commitment devices: the ECB during the eurozone crisis, Amsterdam Centre for European Studies Research Paper No. 2020/02 http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3557195

Giavazzi, F. & Pagano, M. (1988) The advantage of tying one’s hands: EMS discipline and central bank credibility, European Economic Review, 32 (5), 1055-1075.

Guter-Sandu, A. & Murau, S. (2021) The Eurozone’s Evolving Fiscal Ecosystem: Mitigating Fiscal Discipline by Governing Through Off-Balance-Sheet Fiscal Agencies, New Political Economy, DOI: 10.1080/13563467.2021.1910648

Heimberger, P. and Kapeller, J. (2017) The performativity of potential output: pro-cyclicality and path dependency in coordinating European fiscal policies, Review of International Political Economy, 24 (5), 904–928.

Howarth, D. (2004) The ECB and the Stability Pact: Policeman and Judge?, Journal of European Public Policy, 11, 832–853.

Lohmann, S. (2003) Why do institutions matter? An audience-cost theory of institutional commitment, Governance, 16 (1), 95-110.

Lokdam, H. (2020) ‘We serve the people of Europe’: Reimagining the ECB’s political master in the wake of its emergency politics, Journal of Common Market Studies, 58 (4), 978-998.

Mabbett, D. & Schelkle, W. (2019) Independent or lonely? Central banking in crisis, Review of International Political Economy, 26 (3), 436-460.

Mair, P. (2009) Responsible versus responsive government, MPIfG Working Paper 09/8, Cologne: Max-Planck Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung.

Majone, G. (1994) The rise of the regulatory state in Europe, West European Politics, 17 (3), 77-101.

Majone, G. (2001) Two Logics of Delegation – Agency and Fiduciary Relations in EU Governance, European Union Politics, 2 (1), 103-122.

McNamara, K., 1998. The currency of ideas: monetary politics in the European Union. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

McNamara, K. (2002) Rational Fictions: Central Bank Independence and the Social Logic of Delegation, West European Politics, 25 (1), 47-76.

Moschella, M., Pinto, L. & Diodati, N. (2020) Let's speak more? How the ECB responds to public contestation, Journal of European Public Policy, 27 (3), 400-418.

Mügge, D. (2015) Studying macroeconomic indicators as powerful ideas. Journal of European Public Policy, 23 (3), 410-427.

Ojala, M., 2020. Doing away with the sovereign: neoliberalism and the promotion of market discipline in European economic governance, New Political Economy, 26 (1), 203-215.

Rauh, C. (2021) Supranational emergency politics? What executives’ public crisis communication may tell us, Journal of European Public Policy, 29 (6), 966-978.

Saurugger, S. & Fontan, C. (2017) Courts as political actors: resistance to EU’s new economic governance mechanisms at the domestic level. DOI: halshs-01628964.

Saurugger, S. & Terpan, F. (2019) The Court of Justice of the European Union, conflicts of sovereignty and the EMU crisis, Journal of European Integration, 41 (7), 903-920.

Scharpf, F. (1988) The Joint-Decision Trap: Lessons From German Federalism and European Integration, Public Administration, 66, 239-278.

Schelkle, W. (2012), “European Fiscal Union: From Monetary Back Door to Parliamentary Main Entrance”, CESifo Forum 1, 28-34.

Schmidt, V. A. (2008) Discursive Institutionalism: The Explanatory Power of Ideas and Discourse, Annual Review of Political Science, 11, 303-26.

Schmidt, V. A. (2012) Democracy and legitimacy in the European Union Revisited: Input, Output and ‘Throughput’, Political Studies, 61 (1), 2-22.

Schmidt, V. A. (2016) Reinterpreting the rules ‘by stealth’ in times of crisis: A discursive institutionalist analysis of the European Central Bank and the European Commission, West European Politics, 39 (5), 1032-1052.

Schmidt, V. A. (2020) Europe’s Crisis of Legitimacy: Governing by Rules and Ruling by Numbers in the Eurozone, Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press.

Scicluna, N. (2018) Integration through the disintegration of law? The ECB- and EU constitutionalism in the crisis, Journal of European Public Policy, 25 (12), 1874-1891.

Seabrooke, L. & Tsingou, E. (2019) Europe's fast- and slow-burning crises, Journal of European Public Policy, 26 (3), 468-481.

Tesche, T. (2019) Instrumentalising EMU’s democratic deficit: the ECB’s unconventional accountability measures during the eurozone crisis, Journal of European Integration, 41 (4), 447-463.

Thatcher, Mark & Stone Sweet, Alex (2002) Theory and Practice of Delegation to Non-Majoritarian Institutions, West European Politics, 25 (1), 1-22.

Tortola, P. D. (2020) The politicisation of the European Central Bank: what is it, and how to study it? Journal of Common Market Studies, 58 (3), 501-513.

Van Doorslaer, H. and Vermeiren, M., 2021. Pushing on a string: monetary policy, growth models and the persistence of low inflation in advanced capitalism, New Political Economy, 26 (5), 797–816.

van ’t Klooster, J. (2020) ‘The Ethics of Delegating Monetary Policy’, The Journal of Politics, 82, 587–599.

van ’t Klooster, J. (2021) Technocratic Keynesianism: A Paradigm Shift without Legislative Change, New Political Economy, 27 (5), 771-787.

van ’t Klooster, J. (2022) The politics of the ECB’s market-based approach to government debt. Socio-Economic Review, https://doi.org/10.1093/ser/mwac014.

White, J. (2015) Emergency Europe, Political Studies, 63 (2), 300-318.

Yiangou, J. O’keeffe, M. & Glöckler, G. (2013) ‘Tough Love’: How the ECB’s Monetary Financing Prohibition Pushes Deeper Euro Area Integration, Journal of European Integration, 35 (3), 223-237.
Anna is a Marie Skłodowska Curie Doctoral Fellow at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and the Université Libre de Bruxelles within the Horizon Europe GEM-Diamond project. Under the joint supervision of Antoine Vauchez (Paris 1) and Amandine Crespy (ULB), her doctoral project examines to what extent the European Central Bank engages strategically with its politicisation.

Anna holds an MA (Hons) in Business/Management and Italian from the University of Glasgow, a Graduate Diploma in International Relations from the University of London, an MA in European Affairs with a specialisation in Economics and Public Policy from Sciences Po Paris and an MSc in Political Economy of Europe from the London School of Economics and Political Science.