Author(s): Agustín Carstens
Date published: Apr 2019
2019 Whitaker Lecture held by Agustín Carstens, General Manager, Bank for International Settlements, at the Central Bank of Ireland, Dublin, 22 March 2019.
All of you here today know Ken Whitaker. Central banker and civil servant extraordinaire, he is held up as a champion of economic reform – the man credited with laying the groundwork for Ireland’s transformation into the Celtic Tiger. But you might not know that his reforming zeal was felt outside Ireland as well, even in Basel. Dr Whitaker was a frequent visitor to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) during his term as Governor between 1969 and 1976, as you can see from the “class photos”.
The BIS archives contain an interesting exchange of letters between Dr Whitaker and the then BIS Chairman. Dr Whitaker and the Governors of the Austrian, Danish and Norwegian central banks petitioned the BIS to expand its Board of Directors to include a wider range of shareholding countries. I’m afraid the BIS was not very receptive at the time: it saw any expansion as a slippery slope. It took several decades for membership of the BIS and of its Board to become, in stages, truly global. Dr Whitaker was, as ever, ahead of his time. And I was pleased to see that he still found value in the BIS’s role as a hub for central banks – bringing together policymakers from all over the world to exchange experiences and discuss common challenges.
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