Competing commitments: Technocracy and democracy in the design of monetary institutions

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In this article, I refine and expand the agenda for research on monetary institutions. First, I evaluate the analyses and research designs presented in this special issue of International Organization. Out of this evaluation, several ideas about how to produce a "third generation" of research on this topic emerge. Specific ideas include how to: create a better synthesis with certain branches of economics, such as information economics; broaden the welfare criteria on which institutional choices are made; deepen the analyses of coalitional and other political processes on which the choice of institutions are based; and strengthen the tests that are offered in support of these choices. In the second part of this article, I explore questions of how popular sovereignty over economic policy and institutional choice are achieved. I show that the institutional regimes proposed in the special issue are, in a sense, democratic as long as the public's "perceived consensus" about economic policies and macroeconomic outcomes is real. However, if, as new work suggests, there is genuine dissensus about policy and macroeconomic objectives, it is no longer clear that the regimes proposed in the special issue are democratic. In the conclusion, I briefly discuss a possible crisis of imagination in institutional design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)889-910+i+iv-v
JournalInternational Organization
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1 2002

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