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WCF Talk with Matthias Thiemann

'The scientization of central banks: How economists shape macroprudential policy'

27 January 2020

4.00-5.30pm, University of Warwick, S2.77 (Social Sciences)


A longstanding alliance between academia and central bankers, which has increasingly led to a scientization of central bank action, has allowed central bankers to shield themselves from criticism regarding central bank policy. But, as Foucault put it, power is not only constraining and repressive. It is also generative, and its generative effects are manifesting themselves in systems of knowledge. This generative aspect of the alliance between academia and central banks has largely gone unnoticed. In other words, what does the coalition between these two professional groups permit central banks to do and how does it shape the trajectory of the academic field? To undertake such an analysis, we need to place our focus not only on the legitimating discourses of economists, be they within or outside of central banks, but also on the policy devices, ways of observing the economy, measuring developments within it and tools to act upon this information, which are developed by these economists. Which dangers are envisioned/anticipated by these measuring devices and which policy actions do they facilitate? In the work he presented, Matthias took up this challenge for the newly developing field of “macrofinance” or the economics of financial instability, a field which investigates the interaction effects between the financial system and the macroeconomy.

You can find a recording of the event here.

Matthias Thiemann is Assistant Professor for European Public Policy at Science Po, Paris. He is a sociologist, with close affinities to political economy. His research analyses the attempts of financial regulators in Europe and the US to control the risk taking behaviour of agents in the financial industry, an attempt complicated by the fact that these agents gain from evading such control. He further investigates why certain ideas that gained prominence post-crisis are translated into policy tools, while others are eschewed by policy makers.