Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2015

Abstract

Financial regulation attempts to balance two competing administrative goals. On the one hand, as with much of administrative law, accountability is a core goal. Accountability undergirds the democratic legitimacy of administrative agencies. On the other hand, unlike with much of administrative law, independence plays a critical role.' Independence helps to protect financial regulatory agencies from political interference and-with some important caveats-arguably helps to guard against some forms of industry capture. In addition, with respect to the Federal Reserve (the Fed), independence serves to improve the credibility of the Fed's price stability mandate by insulating its decisionmaking from politics and, in particular, from the political pressure in favor of easy money during election cycles. These values, of course, are in tension. "Too much" accountability-at least in some forms-may reduce independence. "Too much" independence-at least in some forms-may reduce accountability. Moreover, steps to meet one or the other of these goals may also affect the efficacy of the organization. Having a financial regulatory system that properly balances accountability and independence, but fails to protect households from abuse and the real economy from the catastrophic failure of the financial sector, cannot be anyone's goal.


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