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The effects of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis (GFC) on finance and monetary policy continue to be widespread. Now, policymakers are seeking to determine the best approach for managing and resolving the crisis; one such strategy has been to delegate more legitimacy to independent central banks. When will a political leader support or undermine the legitimacy of an independent central bank in the aftermath of an economic crisis? We argue that the central mechanism for determining a change in views of central bank legitimacy is the optimism of the political elites. Therefore, if a government is optimistic about its chances of retaining power and securing economic recovery, it will be more likely to issue positive, legitimizing statements toward its independent central bank. We test this argument using the compelling and critically important case of the European Central Bank following the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, and we determine that the level of political optimism has a strong impact on the continued legitimacy of independent central banks. In so doing, our study highlights the complicated strategic political choice of using central banks to respond to financial crises.


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18 Jul 2022
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  • Alternative title
    • Optimism in Independence: The ECB in the Eurozone Crisis

  • Journal title
    • Papers & Publications

  • Volume
    • 5

  • Issue
    • 1

  • Date submitted

    18 July 2022

  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      We wish to thank members of the Department of Political Science and International Studies for their support of this project.

      Author Biography:

      Melissa Dixon is a 2015 graduate of Georgia Southern University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Business. Melissa has presented her research at the 2013 and 2014 annual meetings of the Georgia Political Science Association. Her research interests are in the fields of international political economy, Middle Eastern politics, and international institutions.

      Graduation Date:

      May 2015