Two channels of political control allow elected politicians to influence monetary policy. First, political threats to the status, structure, or very existence of the central bank may force central bankers to comply with politically motivated demands on monetary policy. Second, politicians may use their powers of appointment to ensure that central bank appointees share their electoral and party-political goals. This paper derives the monetary policy outcomes obtained as a function of the degree of central bank independence (zero, partial, or full) and central bankers' types (partisans or technocrats).
Based on a case study of the 1957 and 1992 institutional changes to the German central banking system and a regression analysis covering the period in between, the author argues that the formal independence of the system is protected by its embeddedness in the institutions of German federalism and by the federalist components of its decentralized organizational structure. The behavioral independence of the German central bank fluctuates over time with the party control of federalist veto points. The Bundesbank is staffed with nonpartisan technocrats who are partially insulated from political pressures.