Tower of Basel

Tower of Basel

The Shadowy History of the Secret Bank That Runs the World

eBook - 2013
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Tower of Basel is the first investigative history of the world's most secretive global financial institution. Based on extensive archival research in Switzerland, Britain, and the United States, and in-depth interviews with key decision-makers--including Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the US Federal Reserve; Sir Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England; and former senior Bank for International Settlements managers and officials--Tower of Basel tells the inside story of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS): the central bankers' own bank.

Created by the governors of the Bank of England and the Reichsbank in 1930, and protected by an international treaty, the BIS and its assets are legally beyond the reach of any government or jurisdiction. The bank is untouchable. Swiss authorities have no jurisdiction over the bank or its premises. The BIS has just 140 customers but made tax-free profits of 1.17 billion in 2011-2012.

Since its creation, the bank has been at the heart of global events but has often gone unnoticed. Under Thomas McKittrick, the bank's American president from 1940-1946, the BIS was open for business throughout the Second World War. The BIS accepted looted Nazi gold, conducted foreign exchange deals for the Reichsbank, and was used by both the Allies and the Axis powers as a secret contact point to keep the channels of international finance open.

After 1945 the BIS--still behind the scenes--for decades provided the necessary technical and administrative support for the trans-European currency project, from the first attempts to harmonize exchange rates in the late 1940s to the launch of the Euro in 2002. It now stands at the center of efforts to build a new global financial and regulatory architecture, once again proving that it has the power to shape the financial rules of our world. Yet despite its pivotal role in the financial and political history of the last century and during the economic current crisis, the BIS has remained largely unknown--until now.
Publisher: New York : PublicAffairs, 2013
ISBN: 9781610392556
Characteristics: 1 online resource ; 364 pages
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


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Jan 15, 2015

This book is the result of impressive research and should be read by anyone interested in international finance. Unfortunately, the book is badly balanced. Although it covers the BIS from its founding in 1930 through 2013, about half of the book relates to the period to the end of the Second World War, covering the sinister links between the central bankers’ bank and Nazi Germany. The rest of the book seems to have been hastily tacked onto the first half and lacks its narrative drive. Mr. Lebor tries to be fair and quotes Canadian economist William White defending the BIS for warning about the Asian debt crisis in 1997 years before it happened. However, he doesn’t even mention the BIS chief economist Mr. White’s role as Cassandra of the Global Financial Crisis, well described in the der Spiegel article, “The Man Nobody Wanted to Hear: Global Banking Economist Warned of Coming Crisis”. Mr. Lebor, conceding that the BIS has long had an excellent research department, still maintains that there Is no need for it. The same work could be done somewhere else. One has to be skeptical about this. Different research departments have different ways of looking at things and, as Mr. White said, the BIS has always emphasized the risks of excessive lending more than its counterparts. If it were abolished, would its voice move elsewhere or simply be silenced?

Aug 20, 2013

(3 stars for research, 1/2 star for turning out to be a puff piece) Wish to know the specifics why the bank Prescott Bush (grandfather of former president George W. Bush) was a director at UBC where they had all their assets and shares seized for aiding Hitler? Wish to know just how underhanded John McCloy and the Dulles brothers were during Hitler's rule? Wish to know the connections between Hitler's Third Reich and the presidents of the central bank of central banks, the Bank for International Settlements? Knew about IBM's involvement with the Third Reich, but was unaware that Hitler's government awarded Thomas Watson, CEO of IBM, a medal? And the present day machinations of the BIS? Read this book! [One of many criticisms is the sometimes schizophrenic writing of the author; when he states that the politicians and governments lead people into wars, not the bankers? Is he for real? (Read p. 167 of Satyajit Das' book, "Traders, Guns & Money" for the proper explanation) Plus, towards the end the book devolves into a pro-BIS drivel - - do we really want an organization with Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke on its board? Even more horrifying to the informed reader: in the last few pages of the book, Lebor quotes Peter G. Peterson as if he has the Word from God - - Peterson has devoted his entire life to offshoring as many American jobs as possible, ending Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and forcing the populace to adhere to the WTO Financial Services Agreement. Peterson was the original financier, and may still be financing, the program, "Sesame Street" - - now has the real literacy rate risen or fallen since that has been on the air?]

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