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This book investigates how observed differences in institutions affect political and economic outcomes in various social, economic, and political systems. It also examines how the institutions themselves change and develop in response to individual and collective beliefs, preferences, and strategies. This volume tackles both monetary and real topics in an integrated way, and represents the first coherent empirical investigation of positive models of political economy. The various contributions discuss issues of great topicality not just for Europe, but for all developed economies: why do central banks matter? What determines their independence? How do central bank independence and exchange rate regimes affect monetary integration and activism? The volume also discusses the costs of a monetary union, unemployment benefits, and redistributive taxation.