Tucker, Paul: Unelected power: the quest for legitimacy in central banking and the regulatory state
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This is a very substantial book on a topic of great relevance and practical importance. Its focus is on central banks, their history, and their place in democratic societies. It shows how central banks became the important, powerful players that we see today. The fundamental question the author asks is a more general one, however. It refers to the delegation of power to independent agencies of government, and how to reconcile this delegated authority with democratic legitimacy. The book is, as the author states, about power—unelected power. How to contain it, hold it accountable, legitimize it. In answering these questions, the author draws from a rich personal experience in central banking accumulated over many years of service at the Bank of England and the Bank for International Settlements.
A basic premise of the book is, obviously, that institutions matter—a belief very much shared by this reviewer. Institutions define the environment which constrains and influences individual...