WP1: Why do some authoritarian regimes choose to insulate monetary policy while others seek greater control?
Separation of monetary and fiscal policy is promoted as indispensable for responsible policy making in late capitalism. But it is also an anomaly. For several centuries, monetary and fiscal policy were closely intertwined and largely controlled by the rulers. The coordination of the two under a stable political pact explains why capitalist growth succeeded first in the UK and later in the US. However, in late capitalism, the separation of these two realms became the dominant model to organize the market in advanced industrialized countries. Later, the diffusion of this model in developing world accelerated under the IMF and the World Bank programs. This led to major policy reforms that give greater independence and autonomy to Central Banks. Arguably the separation of monetary and fiscal decision-making is expected to limit the powers of the executive and also encourage a transition to democracy. However, we observe no such trend. Moreover, there is a high level of variation in the level of central bank independence across illiberal areas. How do we account for this?
WP2: How does increasing private debt influence regime survival trajectories? Does increasing household debt encourage authoritarian survival?
Over the last few decades, most governments have been advised to reduce their public debt and avoid irresponsible fiscal spending for political gain. At the same time, the decline in public debt ratios went hand in hand with rising levels of private debt where household and/or corporate indebtedness have risen exponentially in some settings. This is most striking in areas where "democracy is not the only game in town." How does increasing private debt influence regime survival in illiberal areas? Is there any tipping point that accelerates regime change? How should we explain the link between household and corporate debt levels and authoritarian survival?
WP3: How do rentier and non-rentier autocrats follow different financial market building strategies to secure political survival?
In addition to capital account liberalization and currency reforms, governments beyond liberal democracies have created new institutions that enable greater asset mobility for regime supporters. Some of these include the creation of sovereign wealth funds, offshore financial zones, and/or complementary financial systems. Why do some rulers prefer to build tax-free financial havens while others put the emphasis on sovereign wealth funds? Does the latter enable the regime to garner external support by way of channeling investment in other illiberal regimes? Further, do complementary systems (such as Islamic finance) enable regime survival at times of crisis?