Last week I had a discussion with an economist and a political activist about the future role of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel.
The BIS is the international bank of central banks. It has 60 member central banks, representing countries from around the world that together make up about 95% of world GDP. Among them the People's Bank of China, the Central Bank of the Russian Federation and the Board of Governors of the United States Federal Reserve System.
Both of my discussion partners are with many a good argument highly critical about the BIS.
For my part, I took the position that all things considered, the BIS does more good than bad for the socially responsible and eco-friendly betterment of the world.
Socially responsible? Eco-friendly? Okay, these are just hollow expressions.
The reason for my position can be expressed as follows: From its founding in 1930 until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the BIS was the Bank of the European central banks (plus the Bank of Japan for historical reasons as a victoriuos power of WW I) with barely a dozen members.
After their victory in the Cold War, the victorious forces of Anglo-American financial capitalism sought to build a new universal central banking hub plus an interface to the big boys from Wall Street and City of London for the globalised financial markets they now controlled alone. The BIS globalized and became an univesal international economic institution.
Since the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2007 we see a progessive disintegration of the globalized financial markets which is also reflected in the BIS.
When gathering in Basel for their monthly informal discussions, the representatives of the American, Chinese and Russian central banks discuss the art of central banking from the perspective of their national interests.
Whereas the barely a dozen BIS member central banks who met in Basel from 1930 to the beginning of the nineties discussed the art of central banking from the perspective of the universal collective capitalist.
Today, as a truly multilateral international economic institution, the BIS can be a force of good for the future of world economy. Hope dies last.
As Mephisto said to Faust: I am part of the power that would always wish evil, and always works the good.