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Bank for International Settlements

Coordinates: 47°32′53″N 7°35′31″E / 47.54806°N 7.59194°E / 47.54806; 7.59194
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bank for International Settlements
Established17 May 1930; 94 years ago (1930-05-17)
TypeInternational financial institution
PurposeCentral bank cooperation
Coordinates47°32′53″N 7°35′31″E / 47.54806°N 7.59194°E / 47.54806; 7.59194
Central banks from 63 jurisdictions
Agustín Carstens
Main organ
Board of directors[1]

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is an international financial institution which is owned by member central banks.[2] Its primary goal is to foster international monetary and financial cooperation while serving as a bank for central banks.[3] With its establishment in 1929, its initial purpose was to oversee the settlement of World War I war reparations.[4]

The BIS carries out its work through its meetings, programmes and through the Basel Process, hosting international groups pursuing global financial stability and facilitating their interaction. It also provides banking services, but only to central banks and other international organizations.

The BIS is based in Basel, Switzerland, with representative offices in Hong Kong and Mexico City.




French economist Raphaël-Georges Lévy (1853-1933) was a precocious proponent of an international bank, for which he suggested a location in Switzerland
Belgian statesman Léon Delacroix (1867–1929) was an early promoter of the BIS and died during the negotiations to create it

International monetary cooperation started to develop tentatively in the course of the 19th century. An early case was a £400,000 loan in gold coins from the Bank of France to the Bank of England which was facing a bank run, made in 1825 and facilitated by the Rothschilds. The Bank of England again borrowed from its French counterpart (and from the Hamburger Bank) in 1836 and 1839, and lent to it in return in 1847. In 1860-1861, because of the disruption from the incipient American Civil War, the Bank of France entered a series of swap agreements on specie with the Bank of England as well as the State Bank of the Russian Empire and De Nederlandsche Bank. That episode was recorded as the "war of the banks", ostensibly because of frictions between the Bank of France and the Bank of England about the transaction.[5]: 66–67 

A few years later, monetary cooperation took a novel form with a series of international monetary conferences devoted to better coordination of the coinage system, even though these initiatives, like the Latin Monetary Union started in 1865, did not extend to money other than coins,[6] and therefore involved treasury and mint officials rather than bankers.[5]: 69  At the Brussels Conference in 1892, German academic Julius Wolff submitted a blueprint for an international currency that would be used for emergency lending to national central banks and would be issued by an institution based in a neutral country. In 1893, French economist Raphaël-Georges Lévy suggested to establish an international central bank in Bern. In 1907, Italian statesman Luigi Luzzatti published an article in the Austrian Neue Freie Presse, referencing past examples of bilateral cooperation between central banks and emphasizing the need for more institutionalized cooperation at the international level.[7]: 21 

The practice of formalized central bank cooperation made unprecedented advances among allies in the course of World War I. In 1916, the Bank of England and Bank of France made agreements on bilateral lending and established a direct telegraph line between their respective offices to facilitate communication. Similar formal agreements were made that year between the two banks and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and in 1917 the Bank of Italy opened an office in New York.[7]: 17 

In the war's immediate aftermath, Dutch central banker Gerard Vissering advocated an international currency without reliance of a common gold pool.[7]: 22  Similar ideas burgeoned at the Brussels Conference of 1920, the first major discussion of international financial challenges following the war, endorsed by luminaries such as Belgian prime minister Léon Delacroix and American banker Frank A. Vanderlip, who suggested reorganizing Europe's national central banks along similar lines as the U.S. Federal Reserve which he had helped establish in the previous decade. At the Genoa Conference of 1922, following advocacy by several experts that included Ralph Hawtrey, Robert Horne and John Maynard Keynes, a resolution was passed that recommended the creation of "an association or permanent understanding for cooperation amongst central banks, not necessarily limited to Europe, to coordinate credit policies, without detriment to the freedom of each individual central bank."[7]: 23 

The decision to create the BIS took place in the context of negotiations over World War I reparations which plagued international relations in Europe throughout the 1920s. Following the Treaty of Versailles, a Reparation Commission was set up in January 1920 to determine the amount of German reparations. Conferences at Spa in July 1920 and London in March 1921 were followed by the occupation of the Ruhr in January 1923, and eventually the Dawes Plan approved at another London conference in July-August 1924. The latter allowed for a more constructive atmosphere, materialized in diplomacy by the Locarno Treaties in October 1925 and encouraging Montagu Norman, the influential governor of the Bank of England, to envisage the creation of what he described in September 1925 as "a private and eclectic Central Banks' 'Club', small at first, larger in the future."[7]: 30  That vision had a first materialization at a meeting in early July 1927 which brought together Montagu, his friend Benjamin Strong, head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Reichsbank president Hjalmar Schacht, and Bank of France vice governor Charles Rist at a private home on Long Island (the Bank of Italy had hoped for an invitation but was not included). A second meeting was scheduled in Algeciras, but was not held because of the bad health of Strong, who eventually died in October 1928.[7]: 31 

The Young Plan and the Hague Conference

American banker Owen D. Young (1874-1962) played a central role in the conception and establishment of the BIS in 1929–1930
Central bankers Montagu Norman (for the UK) and Hjalmar Schacht (for Germany) were key protagonists of the BIS's creation and of its first decade of operations
Hôtel Stéphanie in Baden-Baden (demolished in 1964),[8] where the charter and statutes of the BIS were drafted

A deadline for French repayment of its bilateral debt to the United States provided impetus for a new initiative, which took the form of a Committee of Experts appointed to work out a final settlement of the German reparations, known as the Young Committee for its chairman the American banker Owen D. Young. The committee first met at the Bank of France on 9 February 1929, then on 28 successive sessions ending on 7 June 1929 at the Hotel George V. The seven participating countries were Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The need for a jointly governed bank emerged in these discussions as a means to overcome information asymmetries and increase the likelihood that commitments would be effectively met, not least by helping the creditors to act collectively and facilitating the reinvestment of German payments into the German economy.[7]: 34  The first draft concept for the new bank was presented by Belgian banker Émile Francqui on 23 February 1929, and amended with suggestions from Bank of France governor Émile Moreau. It was envisaged as a private institution with shareholders from all participating countries (including Germany) that would settle reparation payments, issue bonds to be serviced by the reparation transfers, and (as advocated by Schacht) provide international long-term credit for countries in need, including Germany.[7]: 35  In a memo to Young a few days later, Schacht first used the name "International Settlements Bank" while referring to the projected new institution.[7]: 36  Young asked his American peers Warren Randolph Burgess, Shepard Morgan and Walter W. Stewart to sail promptly to Paris, and on 7 March 1929 they presented a compromise text that formed the basis for subsequent developments.

Under the Young Committee's consensus concept, made public on 10 March 1929, the bank would serve a threefold purpose as a trustee, bank, and international organization of central bankers: (1) receiving, managing, and distributing German reparation annuities as a trustee; (2) facilitating German transfers by issuing counterpart bills, notes, and bonds; and (3) serving national central banks by taking their deposits, granting them credit, and carrying out currency and gold transactions on their behalf. It would rely on nonpolitical staff located in a country not directly involved in the reparations disputes. Subsequent fine-tuning discussions revolved around the scope for the bank's lending to foster economic growth and trade which would have given it a role similar to that of the later World bank. Such a role was advocated by Schacht but opposed by France and by commercial bankers, on the grounds that it could be inflationary and create unfair competition to private-sector lenders. [7]: 37  An overall agreement on the future bank, with draft statutes prepared by the Bank of England's Charles Stewart Addis, was achieved by the Young Committee on 25 March 1929.[7]: 38 

Political positions within the Herbert Hoover administration made it impossible for U.S. Federal Reserve System officials to be formally involved in the initiative, but the U.S. was still able to retain major influence in the proceedings because of a shared perception amongst negotiators that the project would fail without U.S. participation. Major figures of the U.S. financial world would participate in the joint bank, and act in close cooperation with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The leverage held by the U.S. allowed Young and J. P. Morgan Jr. to make sure that Americans would be in leadership position at the bank when it started operations, as indeed happened.[9]

The BIS concept was agreed to in August 1929 at the first part of the Hague conference on reparations. The bank's Charter, Statutes, Trust Agreement, and Convention on its relations with the host country were subsequently drafted by a special Organisation Committee chaired by Jackson Reynolds, president of the First National Bank of New York,[7]: 47  which met in the discreet location of Hôtel Stéphanie (part of which later became Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa [de]) at Baden-Baden from 3 October to 13 November 1929; the intense work was marred by the death of Delacroix from a heart attack during the proceedings.[10] Aside from Reynolds, American participants in Baden-baden also included Melvin Alvah Traylor, president of the First National Bank of Chicago, Warren Randolph Burgess, Shepard Morgan, and Leon Fraser [de] (a legal expert with the Agent General for Reparation Payments), with J. P. Morgan Jr. monitoring the proceedings and advising from London.[9]: 616-618 

As in the Paris discussions earlier in the year, the Baden-Baden committee had to reconcile the different visions for the future BIS, from purely a creation of central banks (as espoused by Italy's Alberto Beneduce and by Montagu Norman) to a supranational development bank with policy tasks such as developing world trade (as advocated by Schacht and UK Chancellor Philip Snowden). Other points of contention included the future institution's official language(s), for which the committee endorsed French, and location. For the latter, several delegates favored London, but that was vetoed by the French who proposed Brussels instead, which in turn was vetoed by the British; after Amsterdam failed to gain sufficient support, a consensus was eventually found on Basel, which combined neutral country status and good railway connections.[7]: 40-44  The founding texts of the BIS were then approved at the second part of the Hague conference, on 20 January 1930, with only minor changes from the Baden-Baden drafts such as the addition of English to French as official language.[7]: 41  These texts included the constituent Charter and Statutes for the bank, and a Convention (intergovernmental agreement) between Germany, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, the United States, and Switzerland, establishing the bank's special status on Swiss soil and committing Switzerland to grant the Charter and approve the Statutes.[11]


Bank of Italy Governor Bonaldo Stringher (1854-1930) chaired the BIS's founding meeting

The Convention and Charter were approved by the Swiss Federal Council and thus obtained force of law on 26 February 1930. The governors met that day and the next to formally approve and sign the statutes in Rome, out of consideration for the Bank of Italy's governor Bonaldo Stringher who was both the most senior in the group, and in poor health (he would pass away in December of 1930). Aside from Stringher, who chaired the meeting, the other participants were: Vincenzo Azzolini and Alberto Beneduce, for Italy; Bank of England governor Montagu Norman and Harry Arthur Siepmann, for the UK; Bank of France governor Émile Moreau, Clément Moret [fr] and Pierre Quesnay, for France; Reichsbank governor Schacht, for Germany; National Bank of Belgium governor Louis Franck and Paul van Zeeland, for Belgium; and the Bank of Japan's London representative Tetsuzaburo Tanaka [ja] and diplomat Hiroshi Saito, for Japan.[7]: 61  Thus the BIS was formally created in Rome on 27 February 1930. The BIS promptly opened its doors in Basel on 17 May 1930,[12] ahead of the first German annuities under the Young Plan due in June.[7]: 61 

The legal status of the bank combined features of a private-sector company and of a public international organization. It was a limited-liability company incorporated under Swiss law, whose shares could be held by individuals and non-governmental entities. However, the rights of voting and representation at the Bank's General Meeting were to be exercised exclusively by the central banks of the countries in which shares had been issued. At the same time, the BIS possessed de facto international legal personality, was exempted from Swiss taxation and banking supervision, and its senior management enjoyed diplomatic status. The Charter stipulated that "The Bank, its property and assets and all deposits and other funds entrusted to it shall be immune in time of peace and in time of war from any measure such as expropriation, requisition, seizure, confiscation, prohibition or restriction of gold or currency export or import, and any other similar measures." Under the Statutes, the governor of each of the founding central banks was a member of the BIS Board of Directors ex officio, and had the right to appoint a second Board member, plus additional right for France and Germany to appoint a third Board member each or the duration of the Young Plan. In principle the Board could appoint up to nine additional directors, in practice however only the Dutch, Swedish and Swiss central bank governors in the BIS's first decades.[7]: 49-50  The inaugural BIS Board had 16 members: Franck and Francqui (Belgium); Moreau, Georges Brincard [fr] and Melchior de Vogüé [fr] (France); Hans Luther, Carl Melchior and Paul Reusch [de] (Germany); Stringher and Beneduce (Italy); Tanaka and Daisuke Nohara (Japan); Norman and Addis (UK); and Gates McGarrah and Fraser (United States).[7]: 62 

Early activity

Early-20th-century former building of Savoy Hôtel Univers at Centralbahnstrasse 7 in Basel, the seat of the BIS from 1930 to 1977

The BIS had a quick start, even though its intended task of facilitating World War I reparation payments soon became obsolete. Even before the founding meeting in Rome, the Organisation Committee had secured a two-year lease of a convenient building in Basel, the former Grand Hôtel et Savoy Hôtel Univers across the street from Basel railway station. By mid-April, Fraser had arrived from the United States and was working on the BIS's behalf from the Paris office of the Agent General for Reparation Payments, joined by McGarrah in April. The Board members first met for an informal meeting in Basel on 22-23 April 1930, adopted the bank's Statutes. It unanimously elected McGarrah as President of the BIS and Chairman of its Board, Fraser as alternate President, and Addis, Melchior and Moreau as Vice-Chairmen "with equal rank". Quesnay was appointed General Manager, albeit with the three German Board members voting against "for serious reasons of principle" (i.e. objecting to the choice of a French national rather than to Quesnay as an individual). These foundational decisions were later ratified by the first formal Board meeting on 17 May 1930, as the April meeting had also agreed that the ordinary meetings of the Board would henceforth take place in Basel on the second Monday of each month. On 17 May the BIS opened for business and formally took over the funds, accounts, capital, and records of the Agent General for Reparation Payments. On 20 May, the bank's shares were publicly issued.[7]: 62-63 

Reparation payments were first suspended for one year (Hoover moratorium, June 1931) and then stopped altogether after the Lausanne Agreement of July 1932 failed to be ratified.[13] Instead, the BIS focused on its second statutory task, i.e. fostering the cooperation between its member central banks. It acted as a meeting forum for central banks and provided banking facilities to them. For instance, in the late 1930s, the BIS was instrumental in helping continental European central banks ship out part of their gold reserves to London.[14]

As a purportedly apolitical organization, the BIS was unable to prevent transactions that reflected contemporaneous geopolitical realities, but were also widely regarded as unconscionable. As a result of the policy of appeasement of Nazi Germany by the UK and France, in March 1939, the BIS was obliged to transfer 23 tons of gold it held, on behalf of Czechoslovakia, to the German Reichsbank, following the German annexation of Czechoslovakia.[15]

World War II


At the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, the BIS Board of Directors – on which the main European central banks were represented – decided that the Bank should remain open, but that, for the duration of hostilities, no meetings of the Board of Directors were to take place and that the Bank should maintain a neutral stance in the conduct of its business. However, as the war dragged on evidence mounted that the BIS conducted operations that were helpful to the Germans. Also, throughout the war, the Allies accused the Nazis of looting and pleaded with the BIS not to accept gold from the Reichsbank in payment for prewar obligations linked to the Young Plan. This was to no avail as remelted gold was either confiscated from prisoners or seized in victory and thus unacceptable as payment to the BIS.[7]: 245–252  Operations conducted by the BIS were viewed with increasing suspicion from London and Washington.[16] The fact that top-level German industrialists and advisors sat on the BIS Board seemed to provide ample evidence of how the BIS might be used by Hitler throughout the war, with the help of American, British and French banks. Between 1933 and 1945 the BIS Board of directors included Walther Funk, a prominent Nazi official, and Emil Puhl responsible for processing dental gold looted from concentration camp victims, as well as Hermann Schmitz, the director of IG Farben, and Baron von Schroeder, the owner of the J. H. Stein Bank [de], all of whom were later convicted of war crimes or crimes against humanity.[17]

The 1944 Bretton Woods Conference recommended the "liquidation of the Bank for International Settlements at the earliest possible moment". This resulted in the BIS being the subject of a disagreement between the U.S. and British delegations. The liquidation of the bank was supported by other European delegates, as well as Americans (including Harry Dexter White and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr.).[18] Abolition was opposed by John Maynard Keynes, head of the British delegation.

Keynes went to Morgenthau hoping to prevent or postpone the dissolution, but the next day it was approved; the liquidation of the bank was never actually undertaken.[19] In April 1945, the new U.S. president Harry S. Truman ended U.S. involvement in the scheme. The British government suspended the dissolution and the decision to liquidate the BIS was officially reversed in 1948.[20]

Postwar decades

Botta building in Basel, acquired by the BIS in 1998

After World War II, the BIS retained a distinct European focus. According to an announcement made by the Swiss Government on 26 December 1952, Japan renounced all rights, titles and interests in the BIS it had acquired under the Hague Convention of January 1930. The BIS acted as Agent for the European Payments Union (EPU, 1950–58), an intra-European clearing arrangement designed to help the European countries in restoring currency convertibility and free, multilateral trade.[21] During the 1960s – the heyday of the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system – the BIS once again became the locus for transatlantic monetary cooperation. It coordinated the central banks' Gold Pool[7]: 416  and a number of currency support operations (e.g. Sterling Group Arrangements of 1966 and 1968[citation needed]. The Group of Ten (G10), including the main European economies, Canada, Japan, and the United States, became the most prominent grouping.

The BIS acquired land near the Basel SBB railway station between 1966 and 1972. Architect Martin Burckhardt made three design proposals in 1969, among which the Board of the BIS selected an 82-meter high round tower. This was opposed by locals and their representation in the Swiss Heritage Society, which led to a public referendum in 1971 in which 69% of voters endorsed a revised design with reduced height. The BIS moved into the new premises, sometimes dubbed the "Tower of Basel," in 1977.

With the end of the Bretton Woods system (1971–73) and the return to floating exchange rates, financial instability came to the fore. The collapse of some internationally active banks, such as Herstatt Bank (1974), highlighted the need for improved banking supervision at an international level. The G10 Governors created the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), which remains active. The BIS developed into a global meeting place for regulators and for developing international standards (Basel Concordat, Basel Capital Accord, Basel II and III). Through its member central banks, the BIS was actively involved in the resolution of the Latin American debt crisis (1982).

From 1964 until 1993, the BIS provided the secretariat for the Committee of Governors of the Central Banks of the Member States of the European Community (Committee of Governors).[22] This Committee had been created by the European Council decision to improve monetary cooperation among the EC central banks. Likewise, the BIS in 1988–89 hosted most of the meetings of the Delors Committee (Committee for the Study of Economic and Monetary Union), which produced a blueprint for monetary unification subsequently adopted in the Maastricht Treaty (1992). In 1993, when the Committee of Governors was replaced by the European Monetary Institute (EMI – the precursor of the ECB), it moved from Basel to Frankfurt, cutting its ties with the BIS.

In 1998, the BIS acquired a second building on Aeschenplatz 1 in Basel, designed in 1986 by Mario Botta and previously owned and used by UBS. Since then, the BIS has used that building to host its banking operations on behalf of member central banks.

21st century

The BIS representative office for Asia and the Pacific is located in the International Financial Centre Tower 2 (left) in Hong Kong

In the 1990s–2000s, the BIS successfully globalized, breaking out of its traditional European core. This was reflected in a gradual increase in its membership (from 33 shareholding central bank members in 1995 to 60 in 2013, which together represent roughly 95% of global GDP), and also in the much more global composition of the BIS Board of Directors. In 1998, the BIS opened a Representative Office for Asia and the Pacific in the Hong Kong SAR. A BIS Representative Office for the Americas was established in 2002 in Mexico City.

The BIS was originally owned by both central banks and private individuals, since the United States, Belgium and France had decided to sell all or some of the shares allocated to their central banks to private investors. BIS shares traded on stock markets, which made the bank an unusual organization: an international organization (in the technical sense of public international law), yet allowed for private shareholders. Many central banks had similarly started as such private institutions; for example, the Bank of England was privately owned until 1946. In more recent years the BIS has bought back its once publicly traded shares.[23] It is now wholly owned by BIS members (central banks), but still operates in the private market as a counterparty, asset manager and lender for central banks and international financial institutions.[24] Profits from its transactions are used, among other things, to fund the bank's other international activities.

After the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, in March 2022 the BIS suspended the Bank of Russia's membership.[25]

Project Nexus

The Bank for International Settlements signed an agreement with Central Bank of Malaysia, Bank of Thailand, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Monetary Authority of Singapore, and the Reserve Bank of India on 30 June 2024 as founding member of Project Nexus, a multilateral international initiative to enable retail cross-border payments. Bank Indonesia involved as a special observer. The platform, which is expected to go live by 2026, will interlink domestic fast payment systems of the member countries.[26]



The BIS members are central banks of 63 jurisdictions: 34 in Europe, 16 in Asia, 5 in South America, 3 in North America, 3 in Africa, and 2 in Oceania.[27][28] The United States is represented by two members, the United States Federal Reserve System and Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The Central Bank of Russia is a member but its engagement with the BIS has been suspended since early March 2022 (see History section above). In the list below, (*) indicates members of the BIS Global Economy Meetings (see below) and (**) indicates observers to these meetings.

Basel Meetings

Brass plaque sign at the entrance of the BIS building in Basel, displaying its name in four languages

The activity of the BIS has always revolved around the regular meetings of its membership in Basel. In the 1930s, these meetings were held every month, with two interruptions resulting in ten meetings per year.[7]: 4  Since 1998, these meetings have been held every other month, so six times a year. The meetings always start on Sundays, when the dinner is a key moment for informal exchange and coordination, and extend over the next day or two. The meeting on Monday morning is the Global Economy Meeting (GEM), preceded by a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee on Sunday. With the suspension of Russia since March 2022, 30 jurisdictions are members of the GEM and an additional 22 participate as observers.

As an organization of central banks, the BIS seeks to make monetary policy more predictable and transparent among its 60-member central banks, except in the case of Eurozone countries which forfeited the right to conduct monetary policy in order to implement the euro. While monetary policy is determined by most sovereign nations, it is subject to central and private banking scrutiny and potentially to speculation that affects foreign exchange rates and especially the fate of export economies. BIS aims to keep monetary policy in line with reality and to help implement monetary reforms in time, preferably as a simultaneous policy among all 60 member banks and also involving the International Monetary Fund.

Central banks do not unilaterally "set" rates, rather they set goals and intervene using their massive financial resources and regulatory powers to achieve monetary targets they set. One reason to coordinate policy closely is to ensure that this does not become too expensive and that opportunities for private arbitrage exploiting shifts in policy or difference in policy, are rare and quickly removed.

The stated mission of the BIS is to serve central banks in their pursuit of monetary and financial stability, to foster international cooperation in those areas and to act as a bank for central banks. The BIS pursues its mission by:

  • fostering discussion and facilitating collaboration among central banks;
  • supporting dialogue with other authorities that are responsible for promoting financial stability;
  • carrying out research and policy analysis on issues of relevance for monetary and financial stability;
  • acting as a prime counterparty for central banks in their financial transactions; and
  • serving as an agent or trustee in connection with international financial operations.

The role that the BIS plays today goes beyond its historical role. The original goal of the BIS was "to promote the co-operation of central banks and to provide additional facilities for international financial operations; and to act as trustee or agent in regard to international financial settlements entrusted to it under agreements with the parties concerned", as stated in its Statutes of 1930.[29]

Basel Committee on Banking Supervision


The BIS hosts the Secretariat of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), colloquially referred to simply as the "Basel Committee", and with it has played a central role in establishing the Basel Capital Accords (now commonly referred to as Basel I) of 1988, Basel II framework in 2004 and more recently Basel III framework in 2010-2017.

Capital adequacy policy applies to equity and capital assets. These can be overvalued in many circumstances because they do not always reflect current market conditions or adequately assess the risk of every trading position. Accordingly, the Basel standards require the capital adequacy ratio of internationally active commercial banks to be above a prescribed minimum international standard, to improve the resilience of the banking sector.

Committee on the Global Financial System


The Committee on the Global Financial System (CGFS) was established in 1971 as the Euro-currency Standing Committee, and adopted its current name in 1999. It reports to the Global Economy Meeting.

As of 2023, it had 28 members: Central Bank of Argentina, Reserve Bank of Australia, National Bank of Belgium, Central Bank of Brazil, Bank of Canada, People's Bank of China, European Central Bank, Bank of France, Deutsche Bundesbank, Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Reserve Bank of India, Bank of Italy, Bank of Japan, Bank of Korea, Central Bank of Luxembourg, Bank of Mexico, De Nederlandsche Bank, Central Bank of Russia, Saudi Central Bank, Monetary Authority of Singapore, South African Reserve Bank, Bank of Spain, Sveriges Riksbank, Swiss National Bank, Bank of Thailand, Bank of England, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Markets Committee


The Markets Committee is the oldest of the BIS-hosted committees, originally established in 1962 as the Committee on Gold and Foreign Exchange. It also reports to the Global Economy Meeting.

As of 2023, it had 27 members: Reserve Bank of Australia, National Bank of Belgium, Central Bank of Brazil, Bank of Canada, People's Bank of China, European Central Bank, Bank of France, Deutsche Bundesbank, Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Reserve Bank of India, Bank of Indonesia, Bank of Italy, Bank of Japan, Bank of Korea, Central Bank of Malaysia, Bank of Mexico, De Nederlandsche Bank, Central Bank of Russia, Monetary Authority of Singapore, South African Reserve Bank, Bank of Spain, Sveriges Riksbank, Swiss National Bank, Central Bank of the Republic of Türkiye, Bank of England, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructure


Another of the committees hosted at the BIS is the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI). The Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems (CPSS) was established in 1990 and extended the prior work of the Group of Experts on Payment Systems (1980) and Committee on Interbank Netting Schemes (1989), and was in turn renamed to CPMI in 2014. Its membership was extended in 1997-98, 2009, and 2018 to reach the following 28 members: Central Bank of Argentina, Reserve Bank of Australia, National Bank of Belgium, Central Bank of Brazil, Bank of Canada, People's Bank of China, European Central Bank, Bank of France, Deutsche Bundesbank, Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Reserve Bank of India, Bank Indonesia, Bank of Italy, Bank of Japan, Bank of Korea, Bank of Mexico, De Nederlandsche Bank, Central Bank of Russia, Saudi Central Bank, Monetary Authority of Singapore, South African Reserve Bank, Bank of Spain, Sveriges Riksbank, Swiss National Bank, Central Bank of the Republic of Türkiye, Bank of England, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

One of the Group's first projects, a detailed review of payment system developments in the G10 countries, was published by the BIS in 1985 in the first of a series that has become known as "Red Books". Currently, the red books cover countries participating in the CPMI.[30] A sample of statistical data in the red books appears in the table below, where local currency is converted to US dollars using end-of-year rates.[31]

Banknotes and coin in circulation (12/31/2018)
Per Capita Area Billions of Dollars
$10,194 Switzerland $87
$8,471 Hong Kong SAR $63
$8,290 Japan $1,048
$6,378 Singapore $36
$5,238 United States $1,719
$4,230 Eurozone $1,446
$2,404 Australia $60
$2,003 Korea $103
$1,924 Canada $71
$1,683 Saudi Arabia $56
$1,417 United Kingdom $94
$1,009 Russia $148
$825 China $1,151
$682 Sweden $7
$680 Mexico $85
$513 Argentina $23
$327 Brazil $68
$311 Turkey $26
$230 India $307
$205 South Africa $12
$196 Indonesia $52

Irving Fisher Committee


The Irving Fisher Committee on Central Bank Statistics gathers 100 members, mostly national central banks as well as a few regional organizations such as the Center for Latin American Monetary Studies [es] (CEMLA), Central American Monetary Council [es], and South East Asian Central Banks Research and Training Centre (SEACEN). It is led by an 11-member executive elected by its members.

Reserve policy is also important, especially to consumers and the domestic economy. To ensure liquidity and limit liability to the larger economy, banks cannot create money in specific industries or regions without limit. To make bank depositing and borrowing safer for customers and reduce the risk of bank runs, banks are required to set aside or "reserve".

Reserve policy is harder to standardize, as it depends on local conditions and is often fine-tuned to make industry-specific or region-specific changes, especially within large developing nations. For instance, the People's Bank of China requires urban banks to hold 7% reserves while letting rural banks continue to hold only 6%, and simultaneously telling all banks that reserve requirements on certain overheated industries would rise sharply or penalties would be laid if investments in them did not stop completely. The PBoC is thus unusual in acting as a national bank focused on the country and not on the currency, but its desire to control asset inflation is increasingly shared among BIS members who fear "bubbles", and among exporting countries that find it difficult to manage the diverse requirements of the domestic economy, especially rural agriculture, and an export economy, especially in manufactured goods.

Effectively, the PBoC sets different reserve levels for domestic and export styles of development. Historically, the United States also did this, by dividing federal monetary management into nine regions, in which the less-developed western United States had looser policies.

For various reasons, it has become quite difficult to accurately assess reserves on more than simple loan instruments, and this plus the regional differences has tended to discourage standardizing any reserve rules at the global BIS scale. Historically, the BIS did set some standards which favoured lending money to private landowners (at about 5 to 1) and for-profit corporations (at about 2 to 1) over loans to individuals. These distinctions reflecting classical economics were superseded by policies relying on undifferentiated market values – more in line with neoclassical economics.

Financial Stability Institute


The Financial Stability Institute is dedicated to debates and exchanges of practices among supervisors and financial stability policymakers. It was established in 1999 in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. It has been led by Josef Tošovský from December 2000 to December 2016, and by Fernando Restoy since January 2017.

BIS Innovation Hub


The BIS Innovation Hub, launched in 2019, extends the BIS mission of collaboration through digital innovation, developing technology-based public goods to support central banks and enhance the functioning of the financial system.[32][33]

The BIS Innovation Hub has officies in Hong Kong SAR, Singapore, Switzerland, London, Stockholm[34] and Toronto.[35]

Other associations hosted by the BIS


The BIS hosts the secretariats of the Financial Stability Board, the International Association of Insurance Supervisors, and International Association of Deposit Insurers. These entities, unlike the above listed committees, have no direct reporting links to the BIS.

Financial results


BIS denominates its reserve in IMF special drawing rights. The balance sheet total of the BIS on 31 March 2019 was SDR 291.1 billion (US$403.7 billion) and a net profit of SDR 461.1 million (US$639.5 million).[36]



The Chairmen concurrently held the role of President from April 1930 to May 1937. Johan Beyen of the Netherlands served as President from May 1937 to December 1939, succeeded by American national Thomas H. McKittrick from January 1940 to June 1946. The position of President remained vacant from June 1946 to June 1948, when the roles of President and Chair of the Board were again reunited until the former was abolished on 27 June 2005. Meanwhile, the Chair had been left vacant from May 1940 to December 1942.

BIS Chairs

Chair Nationality Dates
Gates McGarrah  United States April 1930 – May 1933
Leon Fraser [de]  United States May 1933 – May 1935
Leonardus Trip [nl]  Netherlands May 1935 – May 1937
Otto Niemeyer  United Kingdom May 1937 – May 1940
Ernst Weber   Switzerland December 1942 – November 1945
Maurice Frère  Belgium July 1946 – June 1958
Marius Holtrop [nl]  Netherlands July 1958 – June 1967
Jelle Zijlstra  Netherlands July 1967 – December 1981
Fritz Leutwiler   Switzerland January 1982 – December 1984
Jean Godeaux  Belgium January 1985 – December 1987
Wim Duisenberg  Netherlands January 1988 – December 1990
Bengt Dennis [sv]  Sweden January 1991 – December 1993
Wim Duisenberg  Netherlands January 1994 – June 1997
Alfons Verplaetse  Belgium July 1997 – February 1999
Urban Bäckström  Sweden March 1999 – February 2002
Nout Wellink  Netherlands March 2002 – February 2006
Jean-Pierre Roth   Switzerland March 2006 – February 2009
Guillermo Ortiz  Mexico March 2009 – December 2009
Christian Noyer  France March 2010 – October 2015
Jens Weidmann  Germany November 2015 – December 2021
François Villeroy de Galhau  France January 2022 – present

BIS General Managers

General Manager Nationality Dates
Pierre Quesnay  France April 1930 – September 1937
Roger Auboin  France January 1938 – September 1958
Guillaume Guindey [fr]  France October 1958 – March 1963
Gabriel Ferras  France April 1963 – December 1970
René Larre  France March 1971 – February 1981
Gunther Schleiminger  Germany March 1981 – April 1985
Alexandre Lamfalussy  Belgium May 1985 – December 1993
Andrew Crockett  United Kingdom January 1994 – March 2003
Malcolm Knight  Canada April 2003 – September 2008
Jaime Caruana  Spain April 2009 – November 2017
Agustín Carstens  Mexico December 2017 – present

Board of directors


As of May 2023:

See also



  1. ^ "Board of Directors". www.bis.org/. Archived from the original on 22 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-14.
  2. ^ "About BIS". www.bis.org. 2005-01-01. Retrieved 2016-03-17.
  3. ^ "About BIS". Web page of Bank for International Settlements. January 2005. Archived from the original on 14 May 2008. Retrieved May 17, 2008.
  4. ^ Clement, Piet (2023), Kakridis, Andreas; Eichengreen, Barry (eds.), "Institutionalizing Central Bank Cooperation: The Norman–Schacht Vision and Early Experience of the Bank for International Settlements, 1929–1933", The Spread of the Modern Central Bank and Global Cooperation: 1919–1939, Cambridge University Press, pp. 80–102, doi:10.1017/9781009367578.006, ISBN 978-1-009-36757-8
  5. ^ a b Charles Kindleberger (1993). A Financial History of Western Europe (Second ed.). Oxford University Press.
  6. ^ Luca Einaudi (September 2018), "A Historical Perspective on the Euro: the Latin Monetary Union (1865–1926)" (PDF), Ifo DICE Report
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Gianni Toniolo (2005). Central Bank Cooperation at the Bank for International Settlements, 1930-1973. Cambridge University Press.
  8. ^ "Kongresshaus Baden-Baden". Architektur Bildarchiv.
  9. ^ a b Frank Costigliola (December 1972). "The Other Side of Isolationism: The Establishment of the First World Bank, 1929–1930". Journal of American History. 59 (3): 602–620. doi:10.2307/1900660. JSTOR 1900660.
  10. ^ "Foreign News: Baden-Baden Bankers". Time. 28 October 1929.
  11. ^ "UNTC". treaties.un.org.
  12. ^ "About the BIS – overview". www.bis.org. 1 January 2005.
  13. ^ Abelshauser, Werner; Ritschl, Albrecht; Fisch, S.; Holtfrerich, Carl-Ludwig; Hoffmann, Dierk O., eds. (2016). Wirtschaftspolitik in Deutschland 1917–1990 [Economic Policy in Germany 1917–1990] (in German). Berlin: De Gruyter. p. 575. ISBN 978-3110465266.
  14. ^ "Note on gold shipments and gold exchanges organized by the Bank for International Settlements, 1st June 1938 – 31st May 1945". www.bis.org. 1 September 1997.
  15. ^ Kubu, E. (1998). "Czechoslovak gold reserves and their surrender to Nazi Germany" In Nazi Gold, The London Conference. London: The Stationery Office, pp. 245–48.
  16. ^ LeBor, Adam. Tower of Basel: The Shadowy History of the Secret Bank That Runs the World. 1st ed. New York: Public Affairs, 2013.
  17. ^ Higham, Charles (1995). Trading with the Enemy: The Nazi-American Money Plot, 1933–1949. Barnes & Noble. ISBN 9780760700099.
  18. ^ United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, Final Act, Article IV. London, 1944.
  19. ^ Raymond Frech Mikesell. The Bretton Woods Debates: A Memoir. Princeton: International Finance Section, Dept. of Economics, Princeton University. p. 42. ISBN 0-88165-099-4. Retrieved 8 July 2013. Essays in International Finance 192 brief history of the BIS
  20. ^ "History – the BIS during the Second World War (1939–48)". Bank for International Settlements. October 14, 2014.
  21. ^ Kaplan, J. J. and Schleiminger, G. (1989). The European Payments Union: Financial Diplomacy in the 1950s. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  22. ^ James, H. (2012). Making the European Monetary Union, The Role of the Committee of Central Bank Governors and the Origins of the European Central Bank. Cambridge-London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
  23. ^ "Press release: BIS completes redistribution of shares". www.bis.org. 1 June 2005.
  24. ^ "Products and services". www.bis.org. 21 January 2003.
  25. ^ "IMF approves $1.4 billion Ukraine aid and BIS suspends Russia". Central Banking. March 10, 2022.
  26. ^ Kawale, Ajinkya (1 July 2024). "RBI, four Asean countries tie up for cross-border payments platform". Business Standard. Retrieved 2 July 2024.
  27. ^ Jones, M., "Bank for International Settlements sees first expansion since 2011", Reuters, January 14, 2020.
  28. ^ "BIS member central banks". Oct 13, 2014. Retrieved Mar 19, 2023 – via www.bis.org.
  29. ^ Bank for International Settlements, Statutes, 20 January 1930 (text amended 7 November 2016).
  30. ^ "About the CPMI". www.bis.org. 2 February 2016.
  31. ^ "BIS Statistics Explorer: Table CT2". stats.bis.org.
  32. ^ Wintermeyer, Lawrence. "BIS Innovation Hub Sets The Pace For Central Banking Digital Innovation". Forbes. Retrieved 2023-10-11.
  33. ^ About the BIS Innovation Hub, 2021-01-27
  34. ^ "About the BIS Innovation Hub". 2021-01-27. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  35. ^ "Bank for International Settlements and Bank of Canada launch BIS Toronto Innovation Centre". 2024-06-13. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  36. ^ BIS, "Time to ignite all engines, BIS says in its Annual Economic Report", 30 June 2019.