Contested Communication: A Critical Analysis of Central Bank Speech Defended on Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The more important words become, the more difficult it is to say things. This is the central message of this study on the communication by central bank presidents. Since the end of the twentieth century, central bank presidents see communication as an important means to influence expectations of their publics. In this book, we show how this happens: central bank presidents rely on fixed settings, speak at specified moments, and repeat certain words. Press conferences clearly illustrate this. This strict approach to communication, however, focuses attention on slips of the tongue and (speculative) interpretations of statements, made at planned or unplanned moments.

In times of crisis, these communication ‘disturbances’ are enlarged – communication becomes severely contested. A crisis casts doubt on the legitimacy of authorities. Must we still listen to central bank presidents? Do central bank presidents say what they really think? A detailed analysis of statements by central bank presidents on the British Northern Rock and the Dutch/Belgium Fortis banks shows how central bank presidents communicate by ‘trial and error’. Everything they say can be used against them. Remaining silent is impossible, as silences can be dangerous as well.

By combining philosophical and economic insights, this study not only sheds light on how communication in financial markets evolves, it also explains why communication can become contested. Instead of an instrumental understanding and usage of communication, this dissertation stresses the relevance of a critical-pragmatic perspective on financial communication.

Keywords

communication, power, transparency, central banking/central bank presidents, foucault, critical pragmatism

Preferred reference

Noordegraaf-Eelens, L.H.J. (2010, October 19). Contested Communication; A Critical Analysis of Central Bank Speech (No. EPS-2010-209-MKT). ERIM Ph.D. Series Research in Management. Erasmus Research Institute of Management. Retrieved from hdl.handle.net/1765/21061


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