Bank for International Settlements

(BIS)
   the first inter-national financial agency, conceived in 1928 as a control mechanism for repa-ration* payments. A body without political character, BIS was intended to replace the Reparation Commission and "perform the whole work of external administration such as the receipt and distribution of payments and the com-mercialization of those parts of the annuities which are susceptible of being commercialized." Headquartered in Basel, BIS was also the agency of appeal if Germany believed that reparations were endangering the country's currency or economy; it could recommend up to a two-year moratorium on unprotected reparation annuities. Directed by Gates W. McGarrah, former chairman of New York's Federal Reserve Bank, BIS established a governing board comprised of the chairmen of the national banks of each participating country, including Ger-many's Reichsbank President.
   BIS's ability to function as intended was subverted by the depression.* Amidst Germany's credit crisis, BIS's Special Advisory Committee drafted a report in August 1931 (the Layton-Wiggin Report) outlining the cycle of war debts, reparations, and indebtedness that had provoked the crisis. The report urged cessation of credit withdrawals, arrangement of new long-term loans, and such revision of international policies as were needed to reestablish confidence in Germany. Meeting again at year's end, the committee advised postponement of Germany's Young Plan annuity. The Lausanne Conference* was arranged to formalize this decision, and BIS played no further role with reparations.
   REFERENCES:Clarke, Central Bank Cooperation; Kent, Spoils of War; Schloss, Bank for International Settlements; Wheeler-Bennett, Wreck of Reparations; Wilson, American Business.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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