How to finance the Green Transition towards net-zero carbon emissions remains an open question. The literature either operates within a market-failure paradigm that calls for a Pigou tax to help markets correct themselves, or via war finance analogies that offer a ‘triad’ of state intervention possibilities: taxation, treasury borrowing, and central bank money creation. These frameworks often lack a thorough conceptualisation of endogenous credit money creation, for instance when resorting to loanable funds theory, and disregard the systemic and procedural dimensions of financing the Green Transition. We propose that ‘monetary architecture’, which perceives the monetary and financial system as a constantly evolving and historically specific hierarchical web of interlocking balance sheets, offers a more comprehensive framework to conceptualize the systemic and procedural financing challenges. Using the US as an example, we draw implications of a systemic financing view while considering a division of labor between ‘firefighting’ institutions such as the Federal Reserve and the Treasury, and ‘workhorse’ institutions such as off-balance-sheet fiscal agencies, commercial banks, and shadow banks. We argue further that financing the Green Transition must undergo three ideal-typical phases—initial balance sheet expansion, long-term funding, and possibly final contraction—that require diligent macro-financial management to avoid financial instability.
Presentations at the EAEPE online conference (09/2021) and the research seminar of the Department of International Politics at City, University of London (12/2021)