Research Handbook on Law and Ethics in Banking and Finance
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Research Handbook on Law and Ethics in Banking and Finance

Edited by Costanza A. Russo, Rosa M. Lastra and William Blair

The global financial crisis evidenced the corrosive effects of unethical behaviour upon the banking industry. The recurrence of misbehaviour in the financial sector, including fraud and manipulations of market indices, suggests the need to establish a banking culture that conforms to the highest standards of ethical and professional behaviour. This Research Handbook on Law and Ethics in Banking and Finance focuses on the role that law should play and the effectiveness of newly introduced regulations and supervisory actions as a driver for ethical conduct so as to reconnect the interests of bankers and financiers with the interests of society.
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Chapter 16: Central banks and ethics: the virtual paradox of transparency and confidentiality mandates

Manuel Monteagudo

Abstract

Transparency is considered as a crucial component of central bank independence as a means to make up for its ‘democratic deficit’; and central bank intervention during the Global Financial Crisis has reinforced this general perception. International organisations and domestic legislation have developed transparency standards to communicate policy objectives and results, in addition to a general evolution in favour of free access to the information in the hands of public bodies. But the ‘transparency revolution’ has not swept away central banks’ confidentiality mandate, based upon professional secrecy, private rights protection of privacy and trade secrecy, and the need to assure central banks’ capacity to continue collecting statistical data. Discernment on when to be transparent or confidential requires a high level of wisdom and experience; but mostly it requires a significant dose of ethical considerations to determine when the public interest prevails over the private interest and to explain the reasons of one or another choice. The legislation and case law show that the assurance of monetary policy effectiveness (as a public interest) is one of a decisive consideration in the balance.

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