Central bank reform, liberalization and inflation in transition economies-an international perspective
Journal of Monetary Economics
237 - 264
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This paper develops extensive new indices of legal independence (central bank indepedence (CBI) for new central banks (CBs) in 26 former socialist economies. The indices reveal that CB reform in the FSE during the 1990s has been quite ambitious. In spite of large price shocks, reformers in those countries chose to create CBs with levels of legal independence that are substantially higher, on average, than those of developed economies during the 1980s. The evidence in the paper shows that CBI is unrelated to inflation during the early stages of liberalization. But for sufficiently high and sustained levels of liberalization, and controlling for other variables, legal CBI and inflation are significantly and negatively related. These findings are consistent with the view that even high CBI cannot contain the initial powerful inflationary impact of price decontrols. But once the process of liberalization has gathered sufficient momentum legal independence becomes effective in reducing inflation. The paper also presents evidence on factors that affect the choice of CBI and examines the relation between inflation and CBI in a broader sample. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.