4th Media: Global Power Project (Part I, II, & III)

03 Economy, 07 Other Atrocities, 10 Transnational Crime, Commercial Intelligence

4th media croppedPart I: Global Power Project: Exposing the Institute of International Finance

This is the first of a series of exposés focusing on the Institute of International Finance (IIF), the very “visible hand” of financial markets. It is a continuation of the Global Power Project produced by Occupy.com. Part 1 examines the origins of the IIF.

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Founded in 1983, the Institute of International Finance (IIF) describes itself as “the world’s only global association of financial institutions” with a membership that includes “most of the world’s largest commercial banks and investment banks,” along with sovereign wealth funds, asset managers, hedge funds, insurance companies, law firms, multinational corporations, development banks, multilateral agencies, credit ratings agencies and an assortment of other global financial and economic organizations. In short, the Institute of International Finance is the very visible hand of the global financial markets.

As the IIF notes on its website, its “main activities” include providing so-called “impartial analysis and research” to its members in order to “shape regulatory, financial, and economic policy issues….influence the public debate on particular policy proposals….[and work] with policymakers, regulators, and multilateral organizations… with an emphasis on voluntary market-based approaches to crisis prevention and management.”

It is also there to “provide a network for members to exchange views and offer opportunities for effective dialogue among policymakers, regulators, and private sector financial institutions.” The IIF proclaims it “is committed to being the most influential global association of financial institutions,” seeking to “sustain and enhance…. our extensive relationships with policymakers and regulators.”

The Institute of International Finance was formed at the beginning of the debt crisis of the 1980s, designed to establish a formal organization and representation for the interests of the world’s major banks and financial institutions. A meeting at Ditchley Park, England, was hosted by the National Planning Association (NPA) in May of 1982, which brought together senior representatives from major commercial banks in the industrialized Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) countries, as well as the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Jacques de Larosiere; other top IMF and World Bank officials; the Comptroller of the Currency of the U.S., C.T. Conover; and the Head of Banking Supervision at the Bank of England, Peter Cooke, among many others. [1]

The meeting was designed to discuss the general international financial situation at the time. One of the main conclusions of the meeting was that banks needed access to more up-to-date and accurate information regarding the financial standing of debtor nations, for which it was felt that “an institution within the banking community might be created.” The information would be provided by major banks along with multilateral agencies such as the IMF, World Bank, and the BIS, which all “exhibited a willingness to assist in the efforts of the commercial banks… and to make as much data as possible available to the new institution.” [2]

The participants at the Ditchley meeting became known as the “Ditchley Group.” But their suggestions for a new banking institution did not stop at creating a mechanism for making better information available to banks. The group also envisaged a role for the new institution to undertake meetings directly between debtor nations and private banks, and to send teams of officials to nations to meet with senior government representatives to conduct economic and financial “reviews” of various countries around the world.

The Ditchley Group agreed to invite other banking institutions from the OECD countries to meet and discuss the possibility of creating such an organization, and a second meeting – “Ditchley II” – was held in New York in October of 1982, with the participation of 31 major banks from the U.S., Japan, UK, France, Canada, the Netherlands, West Germany and Switzerland, along with officials from the World Bank, IMF, Bank of England and the BIS. [3]

The meeting resulted in an agreement to establish such an institution, termed a “nonprofit corporation,” to be based in Washington, D.C., which could “suggest independence” from the large Wall Street banks and also “because it would provide proximity to the headquarters of the IMF and the World Bank.”

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The organization would have a small and expert staff, overseen by a board of directors made up of individuals from many of the banks with the largest exposure to international loans, and that membership would also be granted to other institutions with significant international exposure. On January 11, 1983, the Institute of International Finance was incorporated in Washington, D.C., with the participation of senior officers from 37 major banks from Europe, Japan, and North and South America. [4]

Among the original participating banks were: (from Canada) the Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the Royal Bank of Canada, and the Bank of Montreal; (from France) Banque Nationale de Paris and Credit Lyonnais; (from Germany) Dresdner Bank, Commerzbank and Westdeutsche Landesbank; (from Japan) Bank of Tokyo and Mitsubishi Bank; (from Switzerland) Credit Suisse and Union Bank; (from U.K.) Barclays, Lloyds and Midland Bank; (from the United States) Bank of America, Bankers Trust, Chemical Bank, Citibank, Manufacturers Hanover Trust, Mellon Bank, Morgan Guaranty Trust, Chase Manhattan and the First National bank of Chicago. [5]

By the mid-1980s, the IIF had a membership of 189 banks from 39 countries, representing more than 80% of the total international bank exposure to the “Third World.” And all this following the Institute’s “ultimate aim” to “improve the process of international lending” in the midst of the 1980s debt crisis. [6]

While commercial banks established the Institute in order to “coordinate their activities” in the international arena, the banks and the powerful industrial nations and international organizations had worked to prevent such coordination from taking place among debtor nations of the Third World. The Group of 77 – a counterpart to the G7 which represents the majority of the word’s population – held a summit in 1983, where the debt crisis was of major concern.

The Latin American debtor nations, in particular, “were under considerable pressure from the U.S., the European Economic Community (EEC) and the IMF/World Bank not to entertain any idea of a “‘debtor’s cartel,’ or even to exchange and coordinate information.” So while the world’s major banks established a formal organization which essentially functions as an institutional banking cartel, the world’s debtor nations were pressured to avoid even sharing information with one another regarding the debt crisis. [7]

Thirty years after it was founded, the IIF today boasts a membership of more than 450 institutions in over 70 countries around the world. The IIF hosts a series of meetings every year, the most prominent being its semi-annual full membership meetings, taking place over the course of two days with presentations by private bankers and public officials and including roughly 800 members and guests.

The speakers at these events, according to the IIF report “The First 25 Years,” constitute “a Who’s Who of international financial policymakers and leaders of the global financial industry.” William R. Rhodes of Citigroup (and a former top IIF official) referred to the meetings as ensuring that the IIF became “the leadership organization of its kind.” [8]

The Managing Director of the Institute of International Finance from 1993 until 2013 was Charles Dallara, who had previously served as a managing director at JPMorgan & Co. from 1991 until 1993. Prior to his banking career, Dallars was the U.S. Executive Director of the IMF from 1984 until 1989, and held senior positions in the U.S. Treasury Department between 1983 and 1989. Today, Dallara is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Partners Group, a member of the boards of the Bertelsmann Foundation and the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Vice Chair of the Board of Overseers of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and is a member of the International Advisory Board of the Instituto de Empresa.

The current president and CEO of the IIF is Timothy D. Adams, the former managing director of The Lindsey Group and former Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs from 2005 until 2007, prior to which he served as the Chief of Staff to the U.S. Treasury Secretary from 2001 to 2003. Adams is concurrently a member of the board of the Atlantic Council, a member of the Atlantic Council’s Business and Economics Advisors Group, a Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a director of the Center for Global Development, a delegate at the China Development Forum, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the Business 20 (B20), a counterpart conference to the G20 meetings designed to provide the input of the world’s business community to the leaders, finance ministers and central bank governors of the world’s leading twenty nations.

The Institute of International Finance (IIF) represents the very “visible hand” of financial markets, wielding immense influence and boasting unparalleled access to central bankers and top policymakers from around the world. Look for the next parts in this series on the IIF as part of Occupy.com’s Global Power Project.

References:

[1] Walter Sterling Surrey and Peri N. Nash, “Bankers Look Beyond the Debt Crisis: The Institute of International Finance, Inc.,” Columbia Journal of Transnational Law (Vol. 23, 1985-1985), pages 111-113. [2] Ibid. [3] Ibid, pages 113-114. [4] Ibid, pages 114-115. [5] Ibid, page 115. [6] Ibid, pages 117-118. [7] Robert E. Wood, “The Debt Crisis and North-South Relations,” Third World Quarterly (Vol. 6, No. 3, July 1984), page 714. [8] IIF, The First 25 Years: 1982-2007 (Institute of International Finance, 2007), page 26.

Part II: GLOBAL POWER PROJECT: CONNECTING JOSEF ACKERMANN, THE INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL FINANCE AND THE EURO DEBT CRISIS

dallaraIn Part 1 of a Global Power Project exposé on the Institute of International Finance (IIF), I examined the founding the institute as a response by leading world banks to organize and manage their interests in relation to the 1980s debt crisis. When the European debt crisis hit headlines in 2010, the IIF was again on the scene and playing a major part. At the center was the CEO of Deutsche Bank, Josef Ackermann.

Josef Ackermann served as CEO of Deutsche Bank from 2002 to 2012, and over the same period served as Chairman of the IIF. Ackermann was also, and still remains, a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group and continues to serve on the IIF’s Group of Trustees, a board which includes a number of prominent central bankers including Christian Noyer, the Governor of the Bank of France and Chairman of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS); Jamie Caruana, the General Manager of the BIS; and Jean-Claude Trichet, who was the president of the European Central Bank from 2003 to 2011.

During the early stages of the financial crisis, Ackermann served as an “unofficial adviser” to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her then-Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck. In December of 2009, Ackermann was speaking at a summit in Berlin attended by Chancellor Merkel and several other German cabinet ministers, corporate CEOs and others, where he explained that while the financial crisis had largely been “abated,” many “time bombs” remained — in particular, Greece, which he referred to as the “problem child” of Europe. Ackermann blamed the debt crisis on people having “lived beyond their means for years, if not decades,” warning that pensions and health care systems would “compound the problem” in the future.

The Financial Times has referred to Ackermann as a “reluctant power broker” who “has the ear of Angela Merkel, Europe’s most powerful politician.” Ackermann not only became one of the most influential bankers in the world, but a major political figure as well. As he himself explained: “Financial markets now are very political – political considerations have to play an important role.” In 2011, Ackermann warned that in terms of Europe’s crisis, “I don’t see a quick economic recovery, so we will have a longer time of somewhat lower growth – certainly three to five years.”

In October of 2011, Ackermann delivered a speech in which he said that Europe had “now entered a period of deleveraging” which “will inevitably entail a long period of austerity as governments, households and firms raise their savings.” At an economic forum in December of 2011, Josef Ackermann stated that Europe had to get its debt under control, “even at the cost of national sovereignty,” suggesting that neither “the pressure of financial markets” nor austerity measures “threaten democracy.” The real threat to democracy, according to Ackermann, was the “excessive debt” of European states.

In 2011, France and Germany agreed to negotiate directly with the “private sector” in the next planned Greek bailout agreement. The lead negotiator for the banks was the Institute of International Finance, which was brought in to discuss the potential for the banks to take a slight loss on their holdings of Greek debt. Ackermann was to be one of the lead negotiators for the IIF (also representing Deutsche Bank,a major private holder of Greek debt).

The Institute of International Finance under Ackermann’s chairmanship in turn became directly involved in major European summits, providing key input and suggestions that led to the Greek bailout. In July of 2011, the IIF warned the Eurozone countries that they would have to conclude a bailout agreement for Greece in order to avoid financial markets “spinning out of control.” The IIF delivered these warnings in a report delivered directly to European finance ministers, stating: “It is essential that euro area member states and the IMF act in the coming days to avoid market developments spinning out of control and risk contagion accelerating.”

The IIF undertook talks with Greek political leaders as well as EU officials, the European Central Bank and the IMF, with the organization noting that its managing director Charles Dallara and an IFF team “had extensive meetings with very senior European government officials over several weeks.” The three main IFF officials involved in discussions and negotiations were Charles Dallara (managing director from 1993-2013), Ackermann and Baudouin Prot, the Chairman of BNP Paribas.

According to one report, Ackermann even attended a meeting of the European Council during the EU summit to discuss the Greek bailout. Dallara was reported to have engaged in a conference call with top EU officials, including the Eurogroup chair Jean-Claude Juncker and the European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn. Dallara also reportedly met with European Council President Herman van Rompuy, then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel.

Discussions continued over the following months with little resolution. In an October meeting, EU officials reportedly hit a wall, at which point they summoned Dallara as the representative of the banks to the meeting in order “to break the deadlock.” Dallara met with Sarkozy and Merkel and other leading EU officials. While a general agreement was reached with the banks, negotiations over the technicalities continued into 2012, taking place between the Greek government, the EU, IMF and the IIF.

Ackermann explained that the banks were being “extremely generous” and then warned that failure to agree on a new program would open“a new Pandora’s box” for the debt crisis. Ackermann spoke at the World Economic Forum where he said that any agreement would have to force Greece to adhere to “harsh new austerity measures,” including cuts to wages and pensions, as well as making “the labor market more flexible.”

The final agreement had the banks holding Greek debt to take a 50% “loss” of their holdings of that debt, which would be done through a “bond swap” where they were to exchange their current junk status Greek debt for long-term Greek government bonds (debt) with a higher rating. In other words, the much-touted “write off,” or “loss,” for banks holding Greek debt amounted to a fancy financial method of kicking the can down the road.

After leaving his position as Chairman and CEO of Deutsche Bank as well as Chairman of the IIF, Ackermann spoke at the Atlantic Council, a U.S. think tank where he stated that elections in Greece were “not necessary” and “a big mistake.” What was necessary, he said, was “to make the funding of the banking system more certain,” and claimed it would require between 1 and 2 trillion euros. The European Stability Mechanism’s (ESM) ability to provide banks with $1 trillion was, according to Ackermann, “sufficient,” but he added, “we have to do more” and “we should maintain the pressure on the countries to do the necessary structural reforms and the necessary financial reforms to reduce the debt burden.” However, he noted, “if it comes to the worst,” in terms of a potential collapse of the Eurozone, “everything will be done to bail the Eurozone out.” http://www.acus.org/event/euro-dim-and-dismal-future/transcript

When Ackermann was asked why Germany did not simply come out and say that it would guarantee bank debts in the Eurozone, he explained that “it would be very difficult to get parliamentary approval for such behavior or attitude. People would not support it at all.” Further, if Germany did publicly state that it would guarantee bailouts for banks, many countries in the Eurozone would then ask, “Well, why then go on with our austerity programs? Why go on with our reforms? We have what we need.” Thus, Germany was not saying so publicly, based on what Ackermann called “political tactical consideration,” adding: “I think to keep the pressure up until the last minute is probably… not a bad political solution.”

Ackermann has never lacked as a source for controversy. He has been referred to as “a global banker and political power broker” by one financial analyst, and Simon Johnson, former Chief Economist at the IMF, referred to him as “one of the most dangerous bank managers” in the world whose advice not just to Germany and Greece but also to Belgium and Switzerland “shaped talks to bail out German lenders [banks], reduce Greece’s debt, leverage the euro-area’s rescue fund and influence regulation.” Ackermann himself stated, “Financial markets have become highly political over the past years… Politics and finance will become even more intertwined in the future. Accordingly, bankers have to think and act more politically as well.” One financial analyst stated: “He’s the most influential banker in the euro zone.” A German economics professor noted, “Deutsche Bank and its CEO are the target of all the people who feel our social or economic system is unfair or wrong.”

In 2011, Ackermann was targeted by an Italian anarchist group that claimed responsibility for sending a letter bomb to the Deutsche Bank CEO, though it was intercepted by police. When confronted by Occupy protesters during a speech he gave in November of 2011, Ackermann touted his ”environmental” credentials, explaining that the UN Secretary General had referred to him as a “visionary.”

When Ackermann left Deutsche Bank and the IIF, he did not leave the world of financial and political power. He continued holding positions as a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group; Vice Chairman of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum; and as a member of the Group of Trustees of the Principles for the Institute of International Finance. On top of that, he became a board member of Investor AB, Siemens AG, and Royal Dutch Shell, as well as being appointed Chairman of Zurich Insurance Group. Ackermann also sits on the international advisory boards of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, the National Bank of Kuwait, and Akbank, Turkey’s largest bank, as well as sitting on the boards of a number of other corporate and financial institutions.

When Ackermann left his position as CEO of Deutsche Bank and Chairman of the IIF, he was replaced at the IIF by Douglas Flint, the chairman of HSBC Holdings, who also sits on the board of the IIF. Flint is a member of the Mayor of Beijing’s International Business Leaders’ Advisory Council, a member of the Mayor of Shanghai’s International Business Leaders’ Advisory Council, a member of the International Advisory Board of the China Europe International Business School, a former director of BP (from 2005-2011), a participant in Bilderberg meetings (including for the years 2011-2013), a member of the European Financial Services Round Table (a group of CEOs and chairmen from Europe’s top banks), a member of the Financial Services Forum, a member of the European Banking Group (a group of over ten top European bank leaders formed to directly lobby the EU on “regulation” of the financial industry), and a member of the International Monetary Conference (IMC), an annual conference of private bankers formed to “compliment” the annual IMF meetings.

Whether through the leadership of Josef Ackermann, or now under the chairmanship of Douglas Flint, the IIF has been and will remain a major global player within the debt crisis and future financial crises, representing the organized interests of the financial markets. It’s no surprise, then, that even the Financial Times noted in 2010 that, three years after the financial crisis began, “the markets (and the bankers) still rule.”

Or as former Deputy Treasury Secretary Roger Altman noted, in 2011, that financial markets had become “a global supra-government” that “oust entrenched regimes… force austerity, banking bail-outs and other major policy changes,” whose “influence dwarfs multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund” as “they have become the most powerful force on earth.”

We need look no further than the Institute of International Finance to see just how “the most powerful force on earth” is organized.

Part III: Global Power Project: Central Bankers and the Institute of International Finance

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In Part 1 of the Global Power Project exposé on the Institute of International Finance, I examined the origins and evolution of an organization representing the interests of global banks. In Part 2, I looked at the role played by the IIF and its leadership during the European debt crisis. In this third and final part in the series, I examine the relationship between the IIF and global central bankers.

Since the early 1990s, the IIF has been heavily involved working with central bankers, particularly through the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, Switzerland, where private bankers have been granted a powerful position determining their own regulations in international financial markets. The IIF has been central throughout the reform of Basel I and the entire process of both Basel II and Basel III – collectively known as the Basel Accords – which were officially organized through the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), run out of the BIS.

From 1999 to 2004, the Basel Committee organized to impose a new set of global banking regulations, called Basel II. The head of the Basel Committee at the time was William McDonough, then the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and a former Vice Chairman at the First National Bank of Chicago. He was also a founding member of the IIF at the 1982 Ditchley Conference, and remained a member on the board of the IIF from 1984 until 1990.

McDonough later explained: “Without the IIF it would have been far more difficult for regulators, such as the Basel Committee, to fully understand the critical issues that confronted the banks. The meetings with the IIF were an excellent sounding board – we trusted them (the banks) and they trusted us (the regulators).”

At the start of the Basel II process in 1999, the IIF created a special group, the Steering Committee on Regulatory Capital, which was to engage with the Basel Committee on behalf of the global banking industry. The papers put forward by the Steering Committee were ultimately accepted and implemented by the Basel Committee in the final accord, Basel II, essentially allowing the banks to regulate themselves.

The Chair of the Steering Committee, Daniel Bouton, who was also chairman and CEO of the French bank, Société Générale, later commented that, “It was of the utmost importance to try to have a coordinated view of the global banking industry in order to be able to discuss with the Basel Committee the most important questions. In fact, the IIF has been the single platform to forge a consensus between global banks about the key principles. And so it has played a very important part in discussions with the Basel Committee.”

But the relationship between the IIF and central bankers goes beyond the timid attempts at “regulation” on the part of global central banks. In fact, central bankers traverse through the revolving door of financial markets: from the mega-banks into the central banks.

At the mega-banks, the bankers’ job is to maximize profits through financial markets. At central banks, their job is to protect the banks through management of financial markets. It is a relationship of mutual interest, each side in need of the other, and together, with unprecedented power, central bankers and the “too-big-to-fail” mega-banks have become financial institutions that dominate the global economy.

Indeed, the Institute of International Finance has a number of boards which meet regularly that include several central bank chiefs. Notably, there is the IIF’s Group of Trustees of the Principles, with four co-chairs. One of the co-chairs is Agustin Guillermo Carstens, the Governor of the Bank of Mexico, who also sits on the board of directors of the Bank for International Settlements. In addition he is a member of the Steering Committee of the G20 Financial Stability Board (FSB), a group of central bank chiefs and finance ministers from the G20 nations who meet alongside leaders of the BIS, European Central Bank, European Commission, IMF, World Bank and the OECD to determine the world’s response to the recent global financial and economic crises.

The other co-chairs of the IIF’s Group of Trustees include: Christian Noyer, the Governor of the Bank of France (from 2003 to the present) and chairman of the Bank for International Settlements (from 2010 to the present); Zhour Xiaochuan, the Governor of the People’s Bank of China (2002 to the present) and a member of the board of directors of the BIS, as well as chairman of the Chinese Monetary Policy Committee and Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC); and Toshihiko Fukui, former Governor of the Bank of Japan from 2003 to 2008, current president of the Canon Institute for Global Studies, and a former member of the board of the BIS.

Another notable member of the Group of Trustees is Jaime Caruana, the General Manager of the BIS (from 2009 to the present), former Governor of the Bank of Spain, former member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB), former Chairman of the Basel Committee, and current member of the G20 Financial Stability Board (FSB). Caruana is also a member of the Group of Thirty, a major think tank bringing together finance chiefs, central bankers and private bankers.

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Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com.

Also on the list is Jean-Claude Trichet, the former President of the European Central Bank from 2003-2011, current chairman of the Group of Thirty, European Chairman of the Trilateral Commission, Chairman of the board of directors of the European think tank BRUEGEL, member of the board of directors of EADS, former president of the Global Economy Meeting of Central Bank Governors at the BIS, former member of the board at the BIS, and current member on the board of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics, as well as a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group.

Other members of the Group of Trustees include current or former top officials from the Bank of Canada, the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Bank of Italy, the Spanish Ministry of Finance, the IMF, Bank of France, Bank of Brazil, Bank of Chile, Bank of Iceland, German Finance Ministry, the European Central Bank, the World Bank, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), South African Ministry of Finance, Nigerian Ministry of Finance, and the Turkish Ministry of Finance, among many others.

The Group of Trustees doesn’t merely consist of so-called “public officials,” but also many private bankers and other prominent global power players including top officials from Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Credit Suisse, Commerzbank, Citigroup and others.

Another noteworthy member of the Group of Trustees of the IIF is Paul Volcker, the former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 1979 to 1987, who was previously a chief economist at Chase Manhattan Bank (then under the leadership of David Rockefeller) as well as a former Treasury official and former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Volcker has since been Chairman of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board from 2009 to 2011, a member of the board of directors of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a member of the Executive Committee of the Trilateral Commission, Chairman Emeritus of the Group of Thirty, and a participant at Bilderberg Meetings.

Not only are central bankers, finance ministers and other “public officials” members of various boards at the IIF, but they also attend regular meetings hosted by the IIF, bringing them into consistent, close contact with the leading figures of the world’s largest financial institutions (aka: their real constituents). With the emerging financial crisis in 2007, the IIF hosted a meeting in Washington, DC, over the course of a weekend that they spent “lavishing central bankers and policymakers with praise, awards and banquets,” and as the Financial Times reported, “a genuine warmth appears to have developed between many senior bankers and policymakers.”

At the 2010 annual meeting of the IIF, in the midst of the exploding European debt crisis, notable invited guest speakers included the Greek Finance Minister as well as Olli Rehn, the European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs. In his speech, Rehn made clear that his objective, and that of the European Commission, was to enforce austerity measures and “bold structural reforms,” particularly in “labor and product markets.”

At the 2011 annual meeting of the IIF, guest speakers included the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble alongside the Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who spoke of the “political and social cost” of the austerity measures in Greece, enforced under the pressure of financial markets, which he claimed were “an important step that will… convince the markets that the Euro Area can indeed protect itself and its member states.”

Also in attendance at the same IIF meeting was Mark Carney, then the Governor of the Bank of Canada, a board member at the BIS, Chairman of the Committee on the Global Financial System at the BIS, incoming Chairman of the Financial Stability Board (FSB), and now also Governor of the Bank of England. While Carney is often praised for being unafraid to confront bankers, he told the annual meeting that “financial institutions and markets should play critical and complimentary roles in supporting long-term economic prosperity,” even while acknowledging that the latest Basel III banking “regulations” (which he was pivotal in forming) would have little effect in making financial markets safer.

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At the 2011 meeting, a special tribute was paid to the outgoing president of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, who had done so much to protect financial markets and banks at the expense of the living standards of the EU general population. Special remarks and presentations in honor of Trichet were delivered by Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann, IIF Managing Director Charles Dallara, Paul Volcker and Mark Carney. Trichet was commended for two “resolutions,” one of which was signed by the finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 nations, as well as the leaders of the World Bank and IMF (with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde present at the IIF meeting as well), who praised Trichet for his “steadfast leadership in encouraging the governments of Europe to strengthen economic governance and fiscal discipline in the Euro Area,” as well as for “his leading role among global central bank governors in Basel” at the Bank for International Settlements.

Another “resolution” delivered in honor of Trichet was signed by the board of directors of the IIF who praised him “for his many contributions over the past decades to the stability and soundness of the international financial system and the global economy” – which, if anything, Europe’s crisis in 2011 stood as a profound testament against – and they also thanked Trichet for his “laudable improvements to global financial markets” and for being “a tremendous force behind the development of market-based approaches to debt crisis prevention and resolution.”

It is cause for concern when the world’s biggest bankers sit on the same boards and invite the major regulators, central bank chiefs and finance ministers to their meetings, gathering up awards and praise while keeping those parties firmly entrenched within their sphere of influence. The relationship between private banks and central banks is a complex one that is mired in overlap, mutual interests and mutual benefits: a system in which more profit and power is continually bestowed on ever fewer global banking chiefs and technocrats who are unelected, unaccountable and unapproachable – except, of course, to other members of the Institute of International Finance.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is a 26-year old researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada. He is Project Manager of The People’s Book Project, chair of the Geopolitics Division of The Hampton Institute, research director for Occupy.com’s Global Power Project, and hosts a weekly podcast show with BoilingFrogsPost.