Bank For International Settlements

Bank For International Settlements

Summary of Bank For International Settlements

An international bank owned and controlled by the central banks of twenty-four European and five non-European central banks. The BIS was formed at the Hague Conference of 1930 in response to pressures for the restructuring of German war debts. In addition to the German reparations problem, the advent of the Great Depression and demise of the gold standard enhanced the need for international monetary cooperation and improved facilities for monetary operations. The bank commenced operations in Basel, Switzerland, on May 17, 1930, as an international institution, exempt from Swiss banking laws.

The principal function of the bank is to hold deposits and make loans to member central banks. Funds not currently required for central banking operations are invested in short-term liquid instruments. The bank’s unit of account is the gold franc, consisting of .2903 grams of fine gold.

In addition to actual banking activities, the BIS serves as an important forum for central bankers and international banking experts.

The member states in 1984 were: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Finland, France, Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Yugoslavia.

A general meeting of representatives of the central banks holding stock in the BIS is held annually. Voting is proportional to the number of shares held in each country. The Board of Governors consists of the heads of the central banks of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom as ex officio members, plus up to five other representatives of business and industry, selected one each by the ex officio members. The United States is entitled to two ex officio seats on the board but does not occupy them. The board meets monthly to establish policy. Since the Second World War, the chairman of the board also has acted as president of the BIS. The United States is represented in bank affairs by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The BIS operates with-a staff of three hundred, all based in Basel, Switzerland.

(Main Author: William J. Miller)

Bank for International Settlements Outline

The BIS was established in Basle in 1930 as an independent international organization for the purpose of promoting cooperation between the central banks of its members and improving facilities for international financing among the members. The bank consists predominantly of European countries. Certain non-European countries, such as the United States, Canada, Australia and South Africa, are also members. The BIS has 32 member countries. It plays an important role in coordinating the policies of the central banks of its members.(1)

Legal Materials

The BIS is a Swiss-based bank/regulator created by a Hague Convention in 1930. The BIS is owned and operated by (predominantly European) national banks to promote cooperation between them. BIS Web site posts information about the BIS and its publications (

Bank for International Settlements (BIS)

The Bank for International Settlements, abbreviated as BIS, is the oldest international financial institution and was established on 17 May 1930 in the context of the Young Plan (which dealt with the issue of the reparation payments imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles following the First World War). The head office is in Basel, Switzerland and there are two representative offices: in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, and in Mexico City

BIS serves 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. As its customers are central banks and international organisations, BIS does not accept deposits from, or provide financial services to, private individuals or corporate entities.

Bank for International Settlements (BIS)

Embracing mainstream international law, this section on bank for international settlements (bis) explores the context, history and effect of the area of the law covered here.


Further Reading

  • The entry “bank for international settlements (bis)” in the Parry and Grant Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law (currently, the Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law, 2009), Oxford University Press


Further Information

Bank for International Settlements website

G20 Data Gaps Initiative (DGI) – background

See Also

European Central Bank (ECB)

European Investment Bank (EIB)

Inter-Agency Group on Economic and Financial Statistics (IAG)

World Bank



  1. John Mo, International Commercial Law

See Also


Hierarchical Display of Bank for International Settlements

International Organisations > World organisations > World organisation
Finance > Monetary economics > Monetary policy > Central bank
Finance > Monetary relations > Monetary relations > Monetary agreement > European Monetary Agreement

Bank for International Settlements

Concept of Bank for International Settlements

See the dictionary definition of Bank for International Settlements.

Characteristics of Bank for International Settlements

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Translation of Bank for International Settlements

Thesaurus of Bank for International Settlements

International Organisations > World organisations > World organisation > Bank for International Settlements
Finance > Monetary economics > Monetary policy > Central bank > Bank for International Settlements
Finance > Monetary relations > Monetary relations > Monetary agreement > European Monetary Agreement > Bank for International Settlements

See also

  • BIS


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