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Unexpected Revolutionaries : How Central Banks Made and Unmade Economic Orthodoxy - Manuela Moschella

Unexpected Revolutionaries

How Central Banks Made and Unmade Economic Orthodoxy

By: Manuela Moschella

Hardcover | 15 May 2024

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In Unexpected Revolutionaries, Manuela Moschella investigates the institutional transformation of central banks from the 1970s to the present.

Central banks are typically regarded as conservative, politically neutral institutions that uphold conventional macroeconomic wisdom. Yet in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis and the 2020 Covid-19 crisis, central banks have upended observer expectations by implementing largely unknown and unconventional monetary policies. Far from abiding by well-established policy playbooks, central banks now engage in practices such as providing liquidity support for a wide range of financial institutions and quantitative easing, and have even stretched the remit of monetary policy into issues such as inequality and climate change.

Moschella argues that the political nature of central banks lies at the heart of these transformations. While formally independent, central banks need political support to justify their policies and powers, and to obtain it, they carefully manage their reputation among their audienceselected officials, market actors, citizens. Challenged by reputational threats brought about by twenty-first century recessionary and deflationary forces, central banks such as the Federal Reserve System and the European Central Bank strategically deviated from orthodox monetary policies to preempt or manage political backlash and to regain public trust. Central banks so evolved into a new role only in coordination with fiscal authorities and on the back of public contestation.

Eye-opening and insightful, Unexpected Revolutionaries is necessary reading for discussions on the future of the neoliberal macroeconomic regime, the democratic oversight of monetary policymaking, and the role that central banks canor cannotplay in our domestic economies.

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