Author: Sebastian Diessner
This article argues that policy-makers’ non-expert or ‘folk’ ideas can affect policy outcomes in a way that challenges the assumption of economic policy-making being guided by expert ideas emanating from the realm of economics and other sciences. To substantiate this argument, the article invokes literatures on audience costs as well as on economic folk theories to highlight the power of analogies and fallacies in the formulation of policy. While political economists have focused exclusively on the power of the ‘household analogy’ in the area of fiscal policy, much less is known about its monetary policy equivalent, which the article introduces as the ‘bank analogy’. Empirically, the analogy is assessed in the context of what is arguably a least likely case for the power of folk ideas to hold: the European Central Bank’s governance of its balance sheet, the most powerful balance sheet in Europe.