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One Bank to Rule Them All: The Bank for International Settlements

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is an organization that is shrouded in mystery, mainly due to the fact that the majority of people don’t even know of its existence. According to the BIS itself, the main purpose of the Bank is to “to promote the cooperation of central banks and to provide additional facilities for international financial operations” and “act as trustee or agent in regard to international financial settlements entrusted to it under agreements of the parties concern.”[1] This means that the BIS is to have the central banks work with one another to facilitate international operations and to oversee any international financial settlements.

The Bank has a Board of Directors, which “may have up to 21 members, including six ex officio directors, comprising the central bank Governors of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. Each ex officio member may appoint another member of the same nationality. Nine Governors of other member central banks may be elected to the Board.”[2] BIS also has a management wing in the form of a General and Deputy General Manager, both of whom are responsible to the board and supported by Executive, Finance, and Compliance and Operational Risk Committees.[3]

However, its purpose has changed and evolved over the decades, however, it has always been a club for central bankers, yet in many ways it can aid some countries more than others.

The origins of the BIS lie in the United States, specifically New York City. The individuals involved were international bankers who, despite past differences, “worked together to establish a world financial order that would incorporate the federal principle of the American central banking system.”[4] Specifically among them were people such as “Owen D. Young, J. Pierpont Morgan, Thomas W. Lamont, S. Parker Gilbert, Gates W. McGarrah, and Jackson Reynolds, who, in conjunction with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, sought to extend the principle of central bank cooperation to the international sphere.”[5]Before delving any further into the creation of the Bank, it is necessary to examine some of the more notable of these individuals to better understand why they would be involved in the creation of an international bank.

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