Unelected power: The quest for legitimacy in central banking and the regulatory state - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise.


Which tasks should be delegated to independent agencies? Why should we ever engage in such delegation? How many of these agencies do we need and how broad should their authority be? I will discuss these questions and more at AEI on Monday June 18 with author Sir Paul Tucker.

Former Federal Reserve Chairmen Ben Bernanke (R) and Alan Greenspan are seen talking at a cocktail reception in Washington. Via REUTERS/Jason Reed/Files

Significant parts of the modern public sector are not under the direct control of the elected representatives of the people. Instead, judges, the military, and independent regulators exercise immense delegated, unelected power over a range of areas and activities. The response to the global financial crisis and the deep recession that followed has brought central bankers, in particular, into the limelight. In his new book, “Unelected Power: The Quest for Legitimacy in Central Banking and the Regulatory State” (Princeton University Press, 2018), Sir Paul Tucker presents lessons for agents of the administrative state in their quest to maintain democratic legitimacy while insulating their decision-making from the frenzy of the political class.

There is a wide range of considerations to be taken into account here. Which tasks should be delegated to independent agencies? Why should we ever engage in such delegation? If we do delegate responsibilities and authority to independent agencies, how independent should they be, and along which dimensions should their independence be greatest? How do we assess whether the independent agency is functioning properly, and what can or should be done when it is not? How many of these agencies do we need and how broad should their authority be?

On Monday, June 18, I will host a presentation of the book by the author, followed by a discussion of these questions. In addition to the author and myself, this discussion will also feature Sarah Binder, of the Brookings Institution and George Washington University, and Philip Wallach of the R Street Institute. Make sure not to miss this excellent event. You can find more details and RSVP, here.

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