My research

I am an FWO Postdoctoral Fellow at the Hoger Instituut voor Wijsbegeerte of the KU Leuven and a member of the research group A New Normative Framework for Financial Debt at the University of Amsterdam. My research fits somewhere between normative political philosophy and political economy. To date it has three main strands.

Finance and Distributive Justice

My PhD dissertation in Philosophy is titled ‘How to make money: Distributive justice, finance, and monetary constitutions’ was supervised at the University of Cambridge by Alex Oliver and Boudewijn de Bruin. It studies the institution of money from the perspective of theories of distributive justice. In the dissertation, I argue that because political philosophy has given insufficient attention to money and finance, it lacks adequate normative concepts to respond to the ever-growing role of finance in advanced capitalist economies. I highlight the uniquely powerful role of the private banking system and argue for more democratic oversight of money creation. One day, hopefully, this work results in a book. For now, you can find the dissertation as submitted here, and a short summary here.

The Ethics of Democratic Insulation

The financial system is today largely insulated from effective oversight by national parliaments. In this strand of research, I look at the question how democratic financial governance should be. A large part of this work focuses on the normative justification of central bank independence. Where an existing body of work shows that central bank roles have transformed dramatically after the 2007-8 crisis, my work articulates a critical perspective on these developments from a perspective of democratic legitimacy. This research strand has resulted in a general political theory article, an article on John Rawls and central banking, one on the European Central Bank’s mandate and many recent blogs on response of central banks to the 2020 pandemic. I have also written on the perceived democratic gap in the EU’s economic governance structure and on the institutions of global financial governance.

Central bank risk management

The third strand of my research concerns central bank risk management. This is the topic of a PhD dissertation that I am currently completing for the Department of Economics and Business of the University of Groningen, titled “The Political Economy of Central Bank Risk Management” under the supervision of Dirk Bezemer and Boudewijn de Bruin. Digging deeper into the internal politics of central banks, I analyse the hidden politics of how central banks deal with financial risk. This research charts the role of changing approaches to financial risk-management in shaping operations at the European Central Bank before and during the Eurozone crisis. The research draws on a wide range of research methods. I have analysed macroeconomic and financial data, conducted interviews with central bankers, visited archives and reviewed central bank policy documents regulations and policy documents from the late 80s to the present. Drawing on all these sources, I describe how the ECB initially treats financial risk as a purely technical issue, which can be dealt with successfully using commercial risk-management strategies. These approaches, however, turn out to be inadequate for dealing with the crisis. Despite gradual evolution, pre-2008 conceptions of acceptable risk retain their influence throughout the crisis and, so I argue, hinder more effective crisis policies. A chapter of the dissertation on the ECB’s QE programme, which I co-authored with Clément Fontan, is available open access here.

In 2018, I received an FWO Postdoctoral Fellowship and an FNRS Charge de Recherche Fellowship to work on financial regulation after the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-8. This will be the focus of my research going forward.