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Since the financial crisis and during the Covid-19 Pandemic, unconventional monetary policies have tested the boundary of monetary and fiscal policy. Quantitative easing has challenged the economic fundamentals of pre-crisis monetary policy, triggered powerful political opposition to monetary support for the financial sector and broken taboos on debt monetization. Radical global and environmental changes are also pushing central banking away from its traditional heartlands. This Conference, hosted by ACES and the Centre for International and Public Law (Australian National University) addresses the tension between democratic governance and central banking.

Event details of Democratic central banking: Danger or salvation?
Start date 7 July 2022
End date 8 July 2022
Time 12:00
Location Roeterseilandcampus - building M
Room M1.03 and online

As China replaces the USA as the global hegemon, the Federal Reserve’s position at the apex of the global central banking hierarchy and the superintendent of the Dollarized financial system will become increasingly unstable. The People’s Bank of China is challenging the 20th century status quo: through central bank swap lines, the fusion of monetary/economic policy and the potential deployment of monetary powers towards decarbonisation. Are the monetary policy postures of Chinese state capitalism viable alternatives for liberal democratic economies?

Two narratives

These rapid and radical changes to the economic status quo raise urgent questions about the insulation of central banks from democratic politics. One narrative warns of populism and the threat of politicization to the pursuit of price stability: are we forgetting lessons learned in the 1980s too quickly? Are central banks moving beyond their constitutional roles too willingly? The other narrative warns against concentrations of vast socio-economic power immune from political legitimacy. Should democratization really be understood as a mere constraint on central bank power? Could a stronger basis of democratic authorization also strengthen the ability of central banks to deal with their new challenges?

The Conference addresses the tension between democratic governance and central banking across three streams:

  • Political economy: What are the challenges that central banks face today in light of their tenuous democratic legitimacy?
  • Law: Do their constitutional and democratic mandates adequately prepare central banks for these new challenges?
  • Normative: How democratic do we want central banking to be?

Bringing togethers global thought-leaders, established academics and early career researchers, the conference caters to a primary audience of legal scholars, economists and political scientists with an interest in the role and legitimacy of central banks.



  • Will Bateman is Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Research at the Australian National University’s Law School. He researches, writes and lectures on legal dimensions of finance, artificial intelligence and constitutionalism. His next book explores the role of monetary authority in building and sustaining liberal constitutional states: The Monetary State: Law, Money and Constitutionalism (OUP, 2024).
  • Nik de Boer is Assistant Professor in constitutional law at the University of Amsterdam and Coordinator of the ACES Theme Group Governing Europe. His research focuses on constitutional courts in the EU and the legal architecture of money. He is currently working on a forthcoming book with Oxford University Press called Judging European Democracy: The Role and Legitimacy of National Constitutional Courts in the EU.
  • Leah Downey is a visiting academic at the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) and an incoming junior research fellow at St. John's College, Cambridge University. In her research she employs the tools of political theory to better understand the relationship between macroeconomic policy and democracy. 
  • Jens van ‘t Klooster is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science of the University of Amsterdam  and a Research Foundation – Flanders fellow at the KU Leuven’s Institute of Philosophy. His research focuses on the governance of the financial system and its environmental impact.


  • Benjamin Braun is a senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne. He has published widely on the political economy of monetary policy and central banking, with a particular focus on the state-finance nexus. His current research focuses on the political economy of asset manager capitalism.
  • Christine Desan is the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the author of Making Money:  Coin, Currency, and the Coming of Capitalism (Oxford University Press, 2014), a book arguing that a radical transformation in the way societies produce money ushered in capitalism as a public project. She is the founding editor of a website,, that explores monetary and financial design as important vectors of governance.  As a member of Steering Committee of the Massachusetts Public Bank Coalition, she recently helped draft legislation now under deliberation.  She co-founded Harvard’s Program on the Study of Capitalism in 2005. 
  • Seraina Grünewald is Professor of European and Comparative Financial Law at Radboud University Nijmegen, where she is also a member of the Radboud Centre for Sustainability Challenges. Her research and teaching focus on sustainable finance, central banking, macroprudential policy, Banking Union as well as constitutional and institutional aspects of economic and monetary governance in the European Union. She is a regular speaker at academic conferences and national, European and international authorities. Seraina Grünewald is also a member of the Academic Board of the European Banking Institute (EBI), an Academic Fellow with the EUSFiL Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence at the University of Genoa, and a Research Partner with the University Research Priority Programme Financial Market Regulation at the University of Zurich. In 2021, she became a member of the Sustainable Finance Lab in the Netherlands.
  • Clément Fontan is professor of European Economic Policy at UcLouvain and University of Saint-Louis Brussels. He is co-director of the journal Politique Européenne and the  scientific coordinator of the permanent research group « Regulation, markets, capitalisms » of the French Political Sciences Association. He published in many scientific journals about central banks and financial crises and he is co-author of " "Do Central Banks serve the People".  He often presents his research results in front of policymakers and in media outlets
  • Professor Dr Rosa María Lastra is the Sir John Lubbock Chair in Banking Law at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS), Queen Mary University of London. She is co-director of the Sovereign Debt Forum, Vice-Chair of the Monetary Committee of the International Law Association (MOCOMILA), founding member of the European Shadow Financial Regulatory Committee (ESFRC), research associate of the Financial Markets Group of the London School of Economics and Political Science, member of the European Banking Institute (EBI), member of the European Law Institute (ELI) and member of P.R.I.M.E. She has served as a consultant to the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, United Nations (UNCTAD) and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. She is a renowned expert in central banking, banking supervision and resolution, financial regulation, EU monetary and financial law, sovereign debt and international monetary law, and has published extensively in these areas, including several books with Oxford University Press, Elgar and Cambridge University Press.
  • Eric Monnet is an economic historian, Professor at the EHESS and Paris School of Economics, and CEPR research affiliate. His work focuses on the history of European financial systems, central banking and on the international monetary system in the 19th and 20th century. Notable contributions include a reconsideration of the political economy of banking crises during the Great Depression, the operation of the Bretton Woods system, the relationship between postwar central banking and economic planning, and the role of central banks in the first wave of globalization. He has held visiting and research positions at Columbia University, Rutgers University, Ghent University, the IMF, the think tank Bruegel, and previously worked as an economist at the Bank of France. He has published articles in leading journals in history, economic history and macroeconomics. His work has received several grants and awards, including the best PhD dissertation by the International Economic History Association (2015) and the prize of best French economist under 40 (2022). He has recently published the following books Controlling Credit. Central banking and the planned economy in postwar France (1948-1973), Cambridge University Press (2018), and Banks of Providence. Central banks, Democracy and the Fates of Society. ( in French, Le Seuil in 2021; English translation forthcoming at Chicago University Press). Personal webpage:
  • Manuela Moschella is Associate Professor of International Political Economy at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence and Associate Fellow at the Europe Programme at Chatham House. She is also an associate editor of the Routledge Studies in Globalisation Series. She is a political economists and her research focuses on the relationship between technocracy and politics, the politics of money and central banking, and financial regulation. 
  • Saule T. Omarova is the Beth and Marc Goldberg Professor of Law and Director of the Jack Clarke Program on the Law and Regulation of Financial Institutions and Markets at Cornell University. Professor Omarova’s scholarly work focuses on systemic risk regulation and structural trends in financial markets, banking law, financial technology, and political economy of finance. She is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. Prior to joining academia, Professor Omarova practiced law in the Financial Institutions Group of Davis, Polk, & Wardwell, a premier New York law firm, where she specialized in a wide variety of corporate transactions and advisory work in the area of financial regulation. In 2006-2007, she served at the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a Special Advisor for Regulatory Policy to the Under Secretary for Domestic Finance.  In 2021, Professor Omarova was President Biden’s nominee for the post of the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency.
  • Isabella M. Weber is a political economist working on China, global trade and the history of economic thought. She is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University  of  Massachusetts Amherst and the Research Leader for China at the Political Economy Research Institute. Her first book How China Escaped Shock Therapy: The Market Reform Debate is the winner of the Joan Robinson Prize 2021 and the International Studies Association Best Interdisciplinary Book award and has been recommended on best book of 2021 lists by the Financial Times, Foreign Policy, Project Syndicate, ProMarket and Folha de S.Paulo among others. For her work on the rise of economics in China’s recent history she has won the International Convention of Asia Scholars’ Ground-breaking Subject Matter Accolade and the Warren Samuels Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in History of Economic Thought and Methodology. 


Roeterseilandcampus - building M

Room M1.03 and online

Plantage Muidergracht 12
1018 TV Amsterdam