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Conferences & Symposia

2024 Symposium




Wisconsin International Law Journal presents:

Central Banking in a Time of Crisis: An International & Interdisciplinary Perspective

Great Hall at Memorial Union

Date: April 12, 2024

See registration information below.


This conference brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines and countries to discuss the structure, powers, and independence of central banks, and how they respond to crises such as the 2008 financial crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and climate change.

In a crisis, a central bank is supposed to maintain its neutrality in the credit market by lending freely at a punitive rate to banks. This arrangement means that the loans will be temporary, and that banks will maintain their role as primary decision-makers in the allocation of credit. But time and again, the Federal Reserve and other central banks have violated the rules of this playbook in order to restore stability to financial markets during crises. Such departures have prompted charges of hypocrisy, politicization, and calls for banks to acknowledge their political power to intervene on behalf of various causes.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve used its Section 13(3) authority, which allows it to provide liquidity to non-bank commercial entities. Since the Federal Reserve doesn’t typically loan commercially, this authority is only available in times of crisis when at least five governors find that “exigent and unusual circumstances” exist. The use of the Section 13(3) power during the pandemic led to the creation of many new facilities, some of which extend credit to the real economy. Many critics have argued that the creation of these facilities went beyond the authorized powers of the Fed, therefore requiring congressional approval.

Prompted by these developments, this conference asks the following questions: What is the true role of a central bank, and how is such a role defined by law and politics? How do other central banks differ in their governance and authority, particularly in times of crisis? Have these crises pushed central banks beyond their proper boundaries, or have they revealed that such boundaries were never meaningful in the first place? And finally, do the answers to these questions suggest that the structures of the central bank are in need of reform or even a radical overhaul?

For questions about this event, please contact Sarah Verzal at sverzal@wisc.edu. If you need an accommodation for this event or have special dietary needs, please note it in your registration on Eventbrite or contact Bekah Blumenfeld at rblumenfeld2@wisc.edu.

April 12, 2024


8:00-8:30 A.M. Check In


8:30-9:00 A.M. Welcoming Remarks


Neiha Lasharie

Editor-in-Chief, Wisconsin International Law Journal


Daniel Tokaji

Fred W. & Vi Miller Dean and Professor of Law

University of Wisconsin Law School


Sarah Verzal

Senior Program Editor, Wisconsin International Law Journal


9:00-10:00 A.M. Keynote Address


Peter Conti-Brown

Associate Professor of Financial Regulation

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania


10:00-10:15 A.M. BREAK


10:15 A.M.-11:30 A.M. Panel 1: Central Bank Independence: Law, Politics or Policy?


Moderator: John Ohnesorge

George Young Bascom Professor of Law

Director of the East Asian Legal Studies Center

University of Wisconsin Law School




Gene Park

Professor of Political Science and International Relations

Loyola Marymount University


Kenya Amano

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Weatherhead Program on U.S.-Japan Relations

Harvard University


Dan Rohde

S.J.D. Candidate & Fellow in Law and Political Economy

Harvard Law School


Jean-Paul Veiga da Rocha

Professor of Law

University of São Paulo



11:30-1:00 P.M. LUNCH


1:00-2:15 P.M. Panel 2: Legitimacy, Central Banking, and the Hierarchy of Money


Moderator: Jason Yackee

Foley & Lardner Bascom Professor of Law

University of Wisconsin Law School




Aditi Sahasrabuddhe

Assistant Professor of Political Science

Brown University


Aaron James

Professor of Philosophy

University of California, Irvine


Menzie Chinn

Professor of Public Affairs & Economics

University of Wisconsin-Madison


2:15-2:30 P.M. BREAK


2:30-3:45 P.M. Panel 3: New Challenges for Central Banks


Moderator: Joshua Braver

Assistant Professor of Law

University of Wisconsin Law School




Vivienne Lawack

Deputy Vice Chancellor and Professor of Law

University of the Western Cape


Nicolas Jabko

Professor of Political Science

Johns Hopkins University


Roberto Robatto

Assistant Professor of Finance

Wisconsin School of Business


3:45-4:15 P.M. Closing Remarks


Joshua Braver

Assistant Professor of Law

University of Wisconsin Law School




Special thanks to our sponsors:




CLE Information

Past Symposia

More information on all Symposia can be found on the University of Wisconsin Law Library’s Digital Repository’s WILJ Symposiums.



  • link to PDF 2019 WILJ Symposium Program: Lawyers and Lawyering in China and Russia: Common Challenges
  • link to PDF 2018 WILJ Symposium Program: Sustainable Development Goals and International Law: Intersections of Environmental Law, Human Rights, and Environmental Justice
  • link to PDF 2017 WILJ Symposium Program: Regional Human Rights Systems in Crisis
  • 2016 WILJ Symposium: Stamping Privacy’s Passport: The Role of International Law in Safeguarding Individual Privacy
  • 2015 WILJ Symposium: International Law Walks the Line: Border Disputes and Resolution for the 21st Century
  • 2014 WILJ Symposium: Creation of International Law: Exploring the International Law Components of Peace
  • 2013 WILJ Symposium: A Comparative Perspective on Social Justice Lawyering in Asia: Conditions, Practices and Possibilities
  • link to PDF 2012 WILJ Symposium Poster: Renewable Energy & Climate Change: Opportunities & Challenges
  • 2010 WILJ Symposium: Personal Reminiscences of David Trubek