Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance,
Stockholm School of Economics

No 426: Constitutions and Central Bank Independence: An Objection to McCallum's Second Fallacy

Paolo Giordani () and Giancarlo Spagnolo
Additional contact information
Paolo Giordani: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, S-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden
Giancarlo Spagnolo: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, S-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Most of the literature on monetary policy delegation assumes that the government can credibly commit to the delegation contract, an assumption criticized by McCallum. This paper provides foundations for the assumption that renegotiating a delegation contract can be costly by illustrating how political institutions can generate inertia in recontracting, reduce the gains from it or prevent it altogether. Once the nature of renegotiation costs has been clarified, it is easier to see why certain institutions can mitigate or solve dynamic inconsistencies better than others. The paper points to institutions which give Western democracies the technology to make credible delegation commitments, and argues that the ECB is an example of credible delegation.

Keywords: constitution; delegation; inertia; renegotiation costs; separation of powers

JEL-codes: E58; E61

17 pages, First version: January 30, 2001. Revised: March 16, 2001. Earlier revisions: February 6, 2001.

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