Issues in the Governance of Central Banks

May 2009

This report by the Central Bank Governance Group presents information intended to help decision-makers set up governance arrangements that are most suitable for their own circumstances. The report draws on a large body of information on the design and operation of central banks that the BIS has brought together since it initiated work on central bank governance in the early 1990s.

The need to deal with chronic inflation in the 1970s and 1980s prompted the identification of price stability as a formal central bank objective and led to a significant reworking of governance arrangements. The current global financial crisis could have equally important implications for central banks, particularly with respect to their role in fostering financial stability. Although it is too early to know how central banking will change as a result, the report takes an important first step in identifying governance questions that the crisis poses.

JEL Classification Numbers: E42, E52, E58, G01, G18, G38, N20, O16

A road map of the report  
Chapter 1: The main tendencies in modern central banking 5
Chapter 2: Roles and objectives of modern central banks 17
Chapter 3: Political framework and legal status 57
Chapter 4: Decision-making structures  77
Chapter 5: Relations with government 91
Chapter 6: Financial resources and their management 103
Chapter 7: Accountability, transparency and oversight 135
Chapter 8: Management of risks 151
Chapter 9: Selected aspects of management and organisational structures 163