July 14, 1994
Vol. 14, No. 1

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    Law School opens Center for Study of Central Banks

    The Center for the Study of Central Banks, the Law School's newest research program, opened July 1. The center is chaired by Geoffrey Miller, the Kirkland & Ellis Professor in the Law School.

    The center will conduct and sponsor research on the impact of central banks -- banks designed to control the money supply in a given nation -- on the economic, political and social development of countries around the world. The center also will hold conferences with central bank governors and financial experts to stimulate discussion, facilitate the exchange of information and develop policy recommendations for emerging central banks in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

    Central banks present intriguing questions for developing nations, particularly in regard to the banks' subservience to government and political forces and their level of autonomy in creating economic policies and fostering political stability. Many countries have addressed the problem of monetary discipline by giving their central banks some measure of autonomy, Miller said.

    "Central banks were formerly controlled by some governments to enhance the political position of the ruling party," he said. "Now, with greater independence, central banks around the world are looking for support and leadership from their counterparts in other countries."

    The idea of creating a center that focuses on central bank issues arose from last April's highly successful Conference on Central Banks in Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States, sponsored by the Law School and its Center for the Study of Constitutionalism in Eastern Europe. The unprecedented event brought together banking experts from the United States and central bank governors and policy-makers from more than 15 East European nations, including Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and Russia.

    "One of the things we learned from the East European central bank conference was that, as far as we knew, there was no primary academic clearinghouse for information on central banks, aside from quasi-governmental institutions like the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund," Miller said. "There is widespread support for the establishment of such a center, and it is fitting that it should happen at the Law School, with its distinguished faculty members in the Law & Economics program and its internationally active program on constitution-building in Eastern Europe."

    The Center for the Study of Central Banks is on the sixth floor of the Law School. The executive director is Kathleen Hinton-Braaten, a graduate of the Law School. The center's first conference, planned for spring 1995, will focus on the role of central banks in Latin America. The center is also planning to produce a monthly newsletter and a scholarly journal.