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Braun, B. (Benjamin) (2013)
Languages: English
Types: Unknown
Subjects: JN, JA
Focusing on the role of the European Central Bank during the recent banking and sovereign debt crisis in the euro area, this article contributes to the literature on ideational and institu-tional change at critical junctures. In line with recent calls to take the temporal dimension of political change seriously, the article argues that in the context of explosive economic crises a phase of emergency crisis management precedes the phase of purposeful institution building. What happens during this phase is crucial, for in spite of their improvised charac-ter emergency crisis management measures create their own path dependencies. This, how-ever, raises the question of why crisis managers act the way they do. While it is true that crisis managers act as bricoleurs who use whichever tools they find at their disposal, the question of why certain tools are available rather than others calls for a historicisation of crisis management. The article therefore introduces the variable of preparedness, which measures the extent to which the pre-crisis policy paradigm was prepared for the occur-rence of, in this case, the combination of a systemic banking crisis and a sovereign debt cri-sis. The empirical section then compares pre-crisis contingency planning and in-crisis contingency acting, revealing several inconsistencies in the pre-crisis crisis paradigm. The analysis matters for our understanding of political change because these inconsistencies caused the ECB to assume a dominant position in the euro area during the emergency phase of the crisis. This windfall gain in power for the ECB has already begun to shape the future ideational and institutional order of the euro area.

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