The IMF’s annual meetings held in Washington DC last week demonstrated that when the institution issues new economic projections or warnings of a downturn, the mainstream press are not averse to giving them prominent coverage. After the Fund was founded in 1944 (off the back of World War Two), it became part of what internationalists call the ‘rules based global order‘. For 75 years, the IMF has been regarded by the political establishment and banking elites as a lynch pin of the world financial system.
Contrary to what some may believe, the IMF was not the first global monetary institution. That accolade belongs to the Swiss based Bank for International Settlements, which predates the IMF by fourteen years. Its creation in 1930 was, according to the BIS, primarily to settle reparation payments ‘imposed on Germany following the First World War‘. Without WWI – a major crisis event – there would have been no mandate for the BIS to exist. Much as there would have been no mandate for the IMF to exist were it not for the spectre of WWII.
As well as settling German reparation payments, the BIS was also recognised from the outset as a forum for central bankers – the first of its kind – where they could speak candidly and direct the course of global monetary policy.
The board of directors at the BIS is taken up predominantly by the heads of the leading central banks in the world. Right now the governor of the German Bundesbank Jens Weidmann is chairman of the board. As public servants they gather in Basel every eight weeks or so for a series of bimonthly meetings, the discussions from which ordinary citizens are not privy to.
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