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Leadership by Default: The ECB and the Announcement of Outright Monetary Transactions

Dr. Magnus G. Schoeller ()
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Dr. Magnus G. Schoeller: Institute for European Integration Research (EIF), University of Vienna, Apostelgasse 23, 1030 Vienna, Austria

Credit and Capital Markets, 2018, vol. 51, issue 1, 73-91

Abstract: Starting from the striking effect of the ECB’s announcement of Outright Monetary Transactions, this paper examines why and how the ECB emerged as a leader in fighting the Eurozone crisis. Based on a rational institutionalist approach to political leadership, the paper argues that the ECB emerged as a leader because the benefits of preserving the common currency and thus its own existence outweighed the high costs of its politicization. Against the backdrop of superior power resources, homogeneous preferences, and a low institutional constraint, the ECB provided leadership by combining two strategies – namely the provision of common knowledge and unilateral action – which provided it with a first-mover advantage. As a result, the paper argues that the ECB acted as a “leader by default” rather than a power-maximizer. Instead of engaging in a competition about political influence with member states, the ECB refrained from taking the lead as long as possible because it shied away from the high costs that were connected to it. Only once it became clear that it would not be possible to free-ride on the leadership of any other actor, the ECB finally stepped in and assumed leadership.

JEL-codes: E58 F02 F55 H12 Y8 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:kuk:journl:v:51:y:2018:i:1:p:73-91