Stability through Deliberation - The Financial Sector, Public Law, and Democracy

This project investigates the relationship between finance and public law. The legal framework of the financial sector is often designed more or less in accordance with regulatory proposals from the discipline of finance as a sub-field of economics. These regulatory proposals often cherish certain expectations on law's capacity to guide behavior. However, law is not always able to meet these expectations. The meaning of legal rules is often open-ended, contingent, and evolves with their context. The project investigates conflicts that emerge from the disappointment of expectations on (public) law as an instrument for regulating the financial sector. Examples cover sovereign debt and budgetary issues, taxation, monetary law, and financial regulation on the domestic, European and international level.

As public law represents the joint connecting the financial sector with democratic decision-making, this project touches upon the age-old question whether democracy and capitalism can be reconciled. It argues that this is possible if one takes the deliberative dimension of the law more seriously. Law provides substantive, procedural, and institutional algorithms for decision-making. It does not, however, determine the outcome of such decisions in a mechanical way.

Debts and Taxes

By way of departure from a popular proverb, one could say that there is nothing certain but debt and taxes. Or, nothing but sovereign debt crises and unjust or at least questionable taxation. This research project combines both aspects in a series of individual projects. The overarching goal of these projects is to develop legal principles which allow managing power differences within society and among states in order to contain a global capitalist economy within the four corners of democratic decision-making. Those prinicples include sustainability (debt and budget sustainability), democratic ownership, and human rights.

In the field of sovereign debt, Matthias Goldmann was a member of the UNCTAD working group on a sovereign debt workout mechanism.

Banks and Central Banks

Money is the lifeblood of a capitalist economy. Its "essential hybridity" (Pistor) as a creation of public authority that is nourished by the intermediation of private actors makes the legal regulation of central banks and the financial industry a particular challenge for democratic societies. Here, individual freedom and public interests are interconnected in a myriad of interconnected ways. At the same the economic function of money, and indeed the very concept of it, varies with the legal framework. The research projects assembled within this frame study the possibility of the democratic governance of money and the financial sector and their interplay with economics and finance.

International Public Authority

International Public Authority provides the focus for a number of projects analyzing the public authority exercised by international institutions. A significant part of world public opinion regards international institutions with considerable ambivalence: many of these institutions have become powerful; quite a few of their activities raise serious doubts; nonetheless, they should be vested with more powers in order to better further common interests. World public opinion voices legitimacy concerns alongside regulatory demands which poses a serious challenge for these institutions. This project, carried out in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, shares this ambivalent view of international institutions. In response, it proposes a theory of international public law.  The purpose of this theory is to identify, reconstruct and develop that segment of public international law that governs the exercise of international public authority. Thereby, we aim at articulating world public opinion in the language of international law by reconstructing and developing the legal regimes governing the activities of international institutions with a view to their democratic legitimacy and effectiveness. 

Recent research projects by Matthias Goldmann focus on the theory and development of the sources of international law, including so-called soft law and the multi-faceted notion of principles of international law.

Legal Reasoning

In every period, legal scholarship needs to find an approach to hermeneutics that is commensurate to that period's epistemology. In the current post-modern constellation, legal hermeneutics-or legal doctrine-is considered with suspicion. Its claims to the unity of the legal order clashes with the conviction that there is no unity of knowledge and world-views. While some reject legal doctrine as ideology for these reasons, others consider it as a lesser evil to drag on with doctrinal reasoning. Projects related to this frame explore new avenues for a contemporary theory of legal hermeneutics in interdisciplinary perspective.