On November 20th we were very pleased to welcome Sir Paul Tucker, research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, to SPERI.
Sir Paul gave a talk as part of our Political Economy Seminar Series (a joint venture between SPERI and the Department of Politics and International Relations’ Political Economy Research Group) His talk explored the question “Do central banks and other independent agencies undermine our constitutional values?” The abstract was:
Compared with a few generations ago, a lot of government power now lies in the hands of unelected officials, formally insulated from day-to-day politics. This remarkable shift was barely debated, and is most marked among today’s central banks. To be sustainable, delegation-with-insulation needs to be legitimate, meaning it needs to comport with the deep political values associated with democracy, the rule of law, and constitutionalism. The resulting principles for delegation would require reform to a number of the UK’s regulatory agencies, and even to the central bank.
For over thirty years Sir Paul was a central banker, including as Deputy Governor of the Bank of England from 2009 to late 2013. Internationally, he was a member of the steering committee of the G20 Financial Stability Board, leading its work on resolving too-big-to-fail firms without taxpayer bailouts; and a member of the board of the Bank for International Settlements, chairing the Committee for Payment and Settlement Systems.
He is now a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and amongst other roles he is chair of the Systemic Risk Council; a senior fellow at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University; president of the UK’s National Institute for Economic and Social Research; a director at Swiss Re; and a Governor of the Ditchley Foundation.
His recent book Unelected Power: The Quest for Legitimacy in Central Banking and the Regulatory State (Princeton University Press, 2018) lays out the principles needed to ensure that central bankers, technocrats, regulators, and other agents of the administrative state remain stewards of the common good.