Central Banking in Modern Democracies: Private vs. Public Control

  • Panagiotis Kotsios Hellenic Open University, Greece
Keywords: central banks, ownership, governance, independence, democracy


Central banks are among the most powerful institutions in the world: they are granted a legal monopoly in the issuance of money, set interest rates, monitor the banking sector and generally control a country’s money supply and monetary policy. Their decisions and actions affect directly or indirectly almost every economic activity on the planet. However, most of these institutions decide and act independently from government, they are managed by appointed rather than democratically-elected officials and these officials usually come from the private banking sector. These facts generate questions about the functionality of the system and its efficiency in managing global finance. The goal of this research is to investigate the status of central bank management and ownership across the world today, and examine both philosophically and ethically the arguments for and against central bank independence in modern democracies. The analysis concludes that modern democracies should reassess the structure of central banking and address methods and practices that could possibly jeopardize economic development and the effective functioning of democracy in the long run.