I am an Assistant Professor in Political Economy at the University of Amsterdam’s Department of Political Science and an FWO fellow at KU Leuven’s Institute of Philosophy.
The financial system and the environment
A major part of the European Union’s current efforts to achieve its climate and biodiversity objectives consists in policies to “green” the financial system. The project investigates the politics of regulatory coordination to investigate how to align the finance with the broader European Green Deal. To what extent do the European Central Bank’s monetary policy and the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility support the EU’s efforts to renovate 35 million houses until 2030? What would be obstacles to more close coordination from a perspective of legality, legitimacy and subsidiarity? As part of this project, I study the political dynamics that govern EU climate policies while also devising innovative institutional proposals. In 2020 I wrote a proposal with Rens van Tilburg for Green TLTROs, which outlines how the ECB can use the Taxonomy to design refinancing operations. The ECB discussed the proposal as part of its recent strategy review and Christine Lagarde recently expresesed the hope that it would still be implemented at some point. With Nik de Boer, I have also proposed to coordinate monetary policy with the broader EU climate agenda by assigning a more prominent role to the ECB’s so-called secondary mandate. An article with Agnieszka Smoleńska on climate change and the microprudential framework for banks is available here).
Legitimacy and technocracy
The financial system is today largely insulated from effective oversight by national parliaments. 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. Focusing on central banks I have published on the ethics delegating monetary policy, on John Rawls and central banking, and (with Nik de Boer) on the European Central Bank’s democratic legitimacy. I have also written on the perceived democratic gap in the EU’s economic governance structure and on the institutions of global financial governance. In a recent article on Technocratic Keynesianism, I study how changing economic ideas have led central bankers and EU technocrats to pursue radically new policies within the old constitutional structures of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty.
Central bank risk management
A third strand of my research concerns the politics of central bank risk management. I wrote a PhD dissertation with the title “The Political Economy of Central Bank Risk Management” at the Department of Economics and Business of the University of Groningen. In the dissertation, I chart 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 analyzed 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 it deals with using commercial risk-management strategies. These approaches, however, turn out to be inadequate for dealing with the post-2008 crises. Despite gradual evolution, older conceptions of risk retain their influence over the ECB and, so I argue, hinder more effective crisis and environmental policies. A dissertation chapter on sovereign debt, the ECB collateral framework and the eurozone crisis is available here and another on market neutrality is available here (co-authored with Clément Fontan).
Finance and distributive Justice
My academic training is mostly in philosophy and in 2018 I completed a PhD dissertation at the University of Cambridge with the title ‘How to make money: Distributive justice, finance, and monetary constitutions’. The dissertation studies the institution of money from the perspective of theories of distributive justice. 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 democratic oversight of money creation. One day, maybe, this work will result in a book. For now, you can find the dissertation as submitted here, and a short summary here.