The “Towers of Basel”: The World’s Biggest Central Bank Has Private Shareholders
by Washington’s Blog
July 29, 2011
As I’ve pointed out for years, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) is owned by the world’s central banks, which are in turn owned by the big banks. See this and this.
It turns out there may be a very interesting wrinkle to the private ownership issue.
By way of background, BIS is often called the “central banks’ central bank”, as it coordinates transactions between central banks, and which is the entity determining the level of reserves banks are required to keep worldwide.
As Spiegel reported in 2009:
The BIS is a closed organization owned by the 55 central banks. The heads of these central banks travel to the Basel headquarters once every two months, and the General Meeting, the BIS’s supreme executive body, takes place once a year.
But as the New York Federal Reserve Bank currently states on its website:
As of March 2006, the BIS had 55 shareholding central banks from around the world. As of March 2006, the Bank’s assets were approximately $221 billion, including $5.8 billion of its own funds.
When the BIS initially raised capital, participating banks were given the option to buy BIS shares or arrange for those shares to be bought by the public. Currently, 86 percent of the shares of the BIS are registered in the names of central banks, and 14 percent are held by private shareholders. The shares owned by private shareholders consist of part of the French and Belgian issues and all of the shares that were in the original U.S. issue in 1930.
So the private banks own the Fed (and most other central banks), and the central banks – and private shareholders – in turn own BIS, the global bank regulator.
It would obviously be very interesting to find out who these private shareholders are.